Jen Storm is the author of “Red Clouds,” a story in the anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold. The story features illustrations and colour art by Natasha Donovan. In her author statement below, Jen delves into the inspiration behind “Red Clouds” and shares what was important in writing from a woman’s perspective.
* * * * * *
In the early 20th century, the Indigenous peoples of northwestern Ontario were starving. The fur trade era was coming to a close, and animals had become scarce through over-hunting. During this time, there were notable instances of people becoming delirious and resorting to cannibalism. Indigenous communities took this offence very seriously and had their own laws to deal with it.
In writing this story, I relied heavily on the oral histories, trial transcripts, and other information in the excellent book Killing the Shamen, by Thomas Fiddler and James R. Stevens. It was important to me to write this from a woman’s perspective, as it granted me the opportunity to tell a story without retelling the one already written.
Wahsakapeequay is the name of a real woman who was killed by her community’s leader, Jack Fiddler, when she became delirious. However, she never ate human flesh. Little is known about her life. In this story, the character is a fictionalized composite of Wahsakapeequay, Kichi Kakapetikwe, and a number of other windigo accounts told by Fiddler’s descendants. The police charged Fiddler and his brother with murder upon hearing of the medicine man who had killed 14 windigos.
This is the story not just of a windigo, but also of a way of life that changed forever.
– Jen Storm
* * * * * *
Want to find out more about the story behind “Red Clouds”? Learn about the life and trial of Zhauwuno-geezhigo-gaubow [Jack Fiddler] in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
Ready to read “Red Clouds” for yourself? Pre-order This Place: 150 Years Retold today.
* * * * * *
Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.
Featuring Stories By: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel
Illustrated By: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm
Colour By: Scott A. Ford and Donovan Yaciuk
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.