Theresa Meuse is a First Nations author, educator and advisor from the Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia. She wrote The Sharing Circle, and has contributed articles to the Mi’kmaq Anthology (volumes 1 and 2) and the book L’sitkuk: The Story of the Bear River Community.
We asked her to read Suliewey, a sequel the very popular 2021 novel My Indian, by Mi’sel Joe and Sheila O’Neill. The first novel was inspired by the true story of a Mi’kmaw guide working for William Epps Cormack in 1822. Cormack never wrote down his guide’s name, so the authors reclaimed the story from a Mi’kmaw perspective.
Suliewey continues his story after he parts from Cormack and travels into the interior of Newfoundland to see if any Beothuk people have survived the ravages of colonialism and disease.
This is what Theresa Meuse told us:
“Overall, reading Suliewey was heartfelt and gave me a sense of pride in being Mi’kmaq. This story is great for the young readers as well as for those wanting to have connection to our ancestors’ teachings and cultural ways. The story uses many Mi’kmaw words that caused my heart to fill with pride, due to knowing how many words I could read, speak and understand without looking at the glossary.
“My belief has been that there has to be those who have Beothuk ancestry, and when I realized this story was about finding the last of the Beothuk, it intrigued me to want to read it. The parts I enjoyed reading were the humour shared despite challenging moments, like his teasing Mr. Hungry (a wolf). This is so prevalent in our communities today. Also, for the respect he shows to the animal world, for others and his own encampments – the art of sharing and thinking of others.
“Although this may not be the way for everyone in modern times, the teachings are still there to learn. One teaching that clearly came through was the dialects and meaning of the Mi’kmaw words and how they can differ. For example: when I first read the word/name Suliewey – I translated to mean “salt” as in table salt. It was interesting to learn it meant “white streak in the hair.” But yet, I can relate to both meanings have the same concept.
“I would recommend reading Suliewey for its cultural teachings, love and compassion clearly expressed throughout this story. I hope Mi’sel and Sheila continue sharing their story telling. Msit no’kmaq.“