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Finding Otipemisiwak - The People Who Own Themselves

Finding Otipemisiwak

The People Who Own Themselves

By Andrea Currie
Categories: BIPOC, Indigenous Literature, Biography & Memoir
Paperback : 9781551529554, 272 pages, 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-10-08
Expected to ship: 2024-10-08


A Sixties Scoop survivor's journey back to her Nation and the truth of who she is

Otipemisiwak is a Plains Cree word describing the Metis, meaning "the people who own themselves."

Andrea Currie was born into a Metis family with a strong lineage of warriors, land protectors, writers, artists, and musicians - all of which was lost to her when she was adopted as an infant into a white family with no connection to her people. It was 1960, and the Sixties Scoop was in full swing. Together with her younger adopted brother, also Metis, she struggled through her childhood, never feeling like she belonged in that world. When their adoptions fell apart during their teen years, the two siblings found themselves on different paths, yet they stayed connected. Currie takes us through her journey, from the harrowing time of bone-deep disconnection, to the years of searching and self-discovery, into the joys and sorrows of reuniting with her birth family.

Finding Otipemisiwak weaves lyrical prose, poetry, and essays into an incisive commentary on the vulnerability of Indigenous children in a white supremacist child welfare system, the devastation of cultural loss, and the rocky road some people must walk to get to the truth of who they are. Her triumph over the state's attempts to erase her as an Indigenous person is tempered by the often painful complexities of re-entering her cultural community while bearing the mark of the white world in which she was raised. In Finding Otipemisiwak, one woman's stories about surviving, then thriving as a fully present member of her Nation and the human family are a portal. Readers who walk through will better understand the impact of the Sixties Scoop in the country now called Canada.


Finding Otipemisiwak is a beautifully written story of tragedy and triumph, as well as one of escape from a false family into the embrace of a loving one. Threading through Currie's remarkable tale is a heart-wrenching bond between her and her adoptive brother, Rob. This book contains a story that desperately needs to be told. -Frank Macdonald, author of A Forest for Calum

This book takes on the quality of a great radio documentary, splicing prose, poetry, and actuality as Andrea Currie cross-examines colonization and the story that settler society placed over her like a net. When she comes to know who she and her people are, there is joy and there is sadness, but also truth and belonging, a firm scaffolding as Andrea comes to own herself. Finding Otipemisiwak is a powerful act of resistance and gripping to read. It is a balm. -Shelagh Rogers, founding host and co-creator of The Next Chapter CBC Radio
Honorary Witness, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Finding Otipemisiwak is an at times gut-wrenching but always honest account of a time in this nation's history that for too long has been overlooked. Andrea Currie's beautiful poetry and crisp prose force, in such a meaningful way, the reader to acknowledge the hurt done and the need for healing in this land we now call Canada. Combining fact and personal history, Currie brings us into the story of a country willing to sacrifice the welfare of Indigenous children for reasons we still struggle to understand. We should all pause and sit with Currie and her words and join her in the vulnerability she places on the page. We will be better for it. This book is a remarkable collection of knowledge for those who want to learn. -Amanda Peters, author of The Berry Pickers

Weaving myriad forms - poetry, family history, personal essay, cultural criticism - Andrea Currie tells her story with mercy and force, revealing the warp and weft of the racist system that codified the robbery of Indigenous children through the Sixties Scoop and the devastating consequences for those children, their families, and their communities. In this rigorous and beautiful debut, Currie's unfaltering pursuit of complicated truths lifts into the light the possibility of healing, as she seeks and finds her own lost family, writing her story into theirs. Finding Otipemisiwak is a necessary, searing, and luminous gift of a book. -Rebecca Silver Slayter, author of The Second History

Finding Otipemisiwak is a poignant story of self-discovery, weaving Red River Metis heritage with personal narrative and ancestral lore and honouring resilience amidst the Sixties Scoop. -Albert G.D. Beck, Director, Manitoba Metis Federation

With the intimacy of a sharing circle, this story draws in our hearts immediately. Pulsing between difficult observations and skilfully woven into Finding Otipemisiwak are Indigenous teachings and poetry, allowing the narrative to breathe. Even in the very wake of hardship, Andrea Currie encourages us to believe in the enduring powers of culture, earth, and community. -shalan joudry, author of Waking Ground

Finding Otipemisiwak is a stunning, illuminating, and gutting journey through the life of a Sixties Scoop survivor. Page turning, genre bending, personal and political, staggeringly honest, heartbreaking, and glorious, it is a story of resistance, possibility, healing, and hope, of reclamation and reconciliation. With words to stop you in your tracks, Currie braids together heart, soul, and smarts in memoir, poems, threads of her family histories, the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, unflinching questions, and courage, making herself magnificently vulnerable. This book cuts to the heart of the Sixties Scoop crisis, addresses the intergenerational trauma of not only its survivors but its effects on all of us. It gives us all a chance to relearn the history of Canada and to dream of a healing in it. It is part of the truth-telling change this country so desperately needs. -Camille Fouillard, author of Precious Little