According to the Diabetes Canada website, there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. Every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed. For the James Bay Cree living in the territory of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec, “fully one-third of the adults have been diagnosed with type 2 or gestational diabetes and more remain undiagnosed.”
The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee was produced by creehealth.org in order to educate and inform the Cree and other Indigenous peoples of the dangers of eating too much of the wrong foods
and not getting enough exercise. In short, succumbing to a Western diet of convenience and a sedentary lifestyle. The author, Ruth DyckFehderau and 27 storytellers have freely given of their time to tell their stories of encountering diabetes in themselves, family members or in the close-knit communities of Eeyou Istchee. The stories were told directly to the author and bear the mark of simple honesty. Some have lost dear ones to this preventable disease and no doubt found it difficult to relate their story.
“It is no small thing to enter a quiet room and tell your story in detail to a stranger in a language other than your own [Ms. DyckFehderau is not Cree, nor Indigenous at all]. Each person who did it here stated, without being prompted, that s/he was doing it to help other people.”
The author chose to write up Sweet Bloods in a short story format rather than word-for-word interviews, and this makes it highly readable. The stories are interspersed with “Stories We Heard Along The Way”, brief notes that the author has gathered and arranged under different topics. These typically have nothing to do with diabetes but serve to give the reader some insight into the difficult way of life the James Bay Cree struggle to exist under due to colonization, the James Bay hydroelectric project, and the advancement of Western technology.
“This is an important book. In this time, when our Cree communities and other indigenous groups are facing down a brutal and pervasive diabetes epidemic, Sweet Bloods offers a Talking Circle in print: frank, funny, and emotional stories of James Bay Cree people living with the disease. What makes this book special is that we know these storytellers and their stories are our stories. We recognize the effects of colonization in bodies, families and communities – and we see that the insights and love and laughter of these storytellers are stronger. We thank them for the courage to say what most of us will not say. Once you start this book, you’ll want to read to the end.”
Bella M. Petawabano, Chair, Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay
Sweet Bloods has won the Silver Medal at the 2018 Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards and is a finalist in both the Foreword Reviews 2017 INDIES Book of the Year Awards and the 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (NGIBA).
Sweet Bloods is available free of charge to individuals and organizations in Canadian First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, traditional territories, and reserves. Click here for more information. For individuals and organizations not based in Canadian First Nations, Metis or Inuit Communities, Traditional Territories or Reserves, you may use the Amazon.ca link below. *Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!