Joining the national conversation regarding truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is local author Dale Lloyd’s most recent novel October’s Dying.
Though the novel is centred around a fictional love story, Lloyd performed extensive research to ensure the historical context was accurate. Much of that context, as many Canadians have only recently learned, revolves around the Canadian Government’s mandate to assimilate/eradicate natives.
“My mother was Mohawk,” explained Lloyd. “It was a part of her heritage that she kept somewhat hidden, for a lot of reasons.”
The local author explains that in his quest to find out more about his Mohawk family, he began to learn about the residential schools that dotted the country from the time of Confederation up until the 1990s.
Furthermore, Lloyd admits that he spares no truth when it comes to his re-telling of history.
“It’s amazing the ignorance regarding that chapter of our history. I wasn’t aware of it until recently and when I began to do all the research (for this book), it absolutely inspired me to write it. The book itself, the part that deals with Indigenous history, is factual,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd admits he hopes the novel inspires readers to do their own research on one of Canada’s less well-known chapters in history.
“With regards to the part of the book that relates to history, I have referred to it from day one as a very dark book,” said Lloyd. “My explanation, of course, is the history is very dark. You can’t lighten it up.”
October’s Dying centres around a mix-race couple of both Indigenous and European descent who fall in love.
“The love story is critically important to the whole story. The love story happens between the main character brandon who is Native and a European woman named Samantha,” explains Lloyd. “The response of Samantha’s society is as brutal to her as the colonizers were to natives. So, this whole thing is designed to address what I call the collateral damage of history. The descendants of colonizers are paying a price everyday in this nation for what happened back then. Whether in our tax dollars or the inability to really relationally connect. It goes on and on-the collateral damage is critically important.”
Though the book is set in the Strathcona/Kingston area, Lloyd asserts the setting is secondary. The same story could have played out anywhere in Canada.
“This sort of thing happened right across the country and I think people will identify with it in their own setting,” he added.
Despite the author’s unflinching reflection on part of Canada’s history, he is adamant October’s Dying ends on a note of hope.
“The last section of the book deals with what I see as hope moving forward, and there is hope, but it has to do with the coming of generations. Each generation will carry forward the history and be improved by it and, eventually, there will be some resolution of what has happened here,” Lloyd said.
For more information on Dale Lloyd, visit www.dalelloyd.ca/ And, to purchase Lloyd’s latest novel: www.amazon.com/Octobers-Dying-H-Dale-Lloyd/dp/1710864184