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From The Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle – A Review

Canadians are enticed by serial outrage, forget, and then move on, following the next news cycle. Jesse Thistle’s intense personal memoir prods readers to acknowledge how systemic poverty, addiction, homelessness and oppression ultimately affects us all.

He pokes at readers using a litany of mind numbing events and wry humour, common in M├ętis culture, to help readers realize what he experienced and what many still endure on a daily basis.

Witty and topical, messages within this book are both urgent, and unyielding. It isn’t news to Indigenous readers at all; it informs the rest of Canadians.

He, a victim, does not play that card; not hate either. On reading his book, the counter arguments of bright-eyed ‘helpers’ shatter. They look for one thing wrong and that makes everything wrong. He defies the forces that did him damage; he owns his growth as much as he is responsible for his past.

But it wasn’t only one person who made a difference; many were ordinary patient women and men who performed silently, lovingly, gradually making an impression. We need more of this.

Although I may never understand how he survived, why he never quit and why he changed, Jesse took me where I didn’t want to go, made me question biases and judgements. I admire his strength; I operate with greater respect for people who struggle.

You may laugh and cry, often at the same time. This is a love story, a good book, a hard read.