North of Nowhere

North of Nowhere

Song of a Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner

Written by: Wilson, Marie

The incomparable first-hand account of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada told by one of the commissioners who led it.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to record the previously hidden history of more than a century of forced residential schooling for Indigenous children. Marie Wilson helped lead that work as one of just three commissioners. With the skills of a journalist, the heart of a mother and grandmother, and the insights of a life as the spouse of a residential school survivor, Commissioner Wilson guides readers through her years witnessing survivor testimony across the country, providing her unique perspective on the personal toll and enduring public value of the commission. In this unparalleled account, she honours the voices of survivors who have called Canada to attention, determined to heal, reclaim, and thrive.

Part vital public documentary, part probing memoir, North of Nowhere breathes fresh air into the possibilities of reconciliation amid the persistent legacy of residential schools. It is a call to everyone to view the important and continuing work of reconciliation not as an obligation but as a gift.

The incomparable first-hand account of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada told by one of the commissioners who led it.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to record the previously hidden history of more than a century of forced residential schooling for Indigenous children. Marie Wilson helped lead that work as one of just three commissioners. With the skills of a journalist, the heart of a mother and grandmother, and the insights of a life as the spouse of a residential school survivor, Commissioner Wilson guides readers through her years witnessing survivor testimony across the country, providing her unique perspective on the personal toll and enduring public value of the commission. In this unparalleled account, she honours the voices of survivors who have called Canada to attention, determined to heal, reclaim, and thrive.

Part vital public documentary, part probing memoir, North of Nowhere breathes fresh air into the possibilities of reconciliation amid the persistent legacy of residential schools. It is a call to everyone to view the important and continuing work of reconciliation not as an obligation but as a gift.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Jun 11, 2024
Specifications 384 pages | 6 in x 9 in
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Excerpt
Written By

DR. MARIE WILSON (CM, ONWT, MSC) spent six years crisscrossing the country as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. She has spoken throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand on the potential of reconciliation. Born in Ontario, she has lived, studied, and worked as a journalist, teacher, professor, trainer, and executive in Canada, France, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and parts of South America. She lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Written By

DR. MARIE WILSON (CM, ONWT, MSC) spent six years crisscrossing the country as a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. She has spoken throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand on the potential of reconciliation. Born in Ontario, she has lived, studied, and worked as a journalist, teacher, professor, trainer, and executive in Canada, France, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and parts of South America. She lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

North of Nowhere is beautifully written.” — Winnipeg Free Press

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"Marie Wilson challenges all of us to make a commitment to advance reconciliation. It is about working together: upintowin, lifting each other up." —Chief Dr. Wilton Littlechild

"Marie Wilson is the truth keeper entrusted with the accounts of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children who went to residential schools." —Cindy Blackstock, executive director, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society

"Marie Wilson's remarkable memoir is a schooling in painful facts and brave reckonings." —Elizabeth Hay, author of All Things Consoled

"Marie Wilson elicits emotional and insightful responses that move us along our journeys of understanding the truth of Canada." —Shelagh Rogers and Monique Gray Smith

"Beautifully written, Marie Wilson’s North of Nowhere is a stunning work of truth, power, and wisdom. An imperative read for all Canadians to understand the layers of shrapnel left by the residential school system that will leave you with emotion and hope. Wilson is an incredibly brilliant and gifted writer." — Angela Sterritt, author of Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls

"I hope everyone reads this and finds their way to support Survivors, their families, and their communities as they continue to reclaim so much of what was stolen. What a profound and riveting read." —Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed and Godless but Loyal to Heaven

"Canada needs this book. North of Nowhere brings us face-to-face with our buried past; it will make us stronger for the future. As a Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, Marie Wilson walks with us, guides us, and helps us see, hear, and accept the difficult truth of our country. With beautiful writing, superb insights, and sensitivity, she leaves readers not guilty or damaged but optimistic for a shared future as we travel a national road to reconciliation." —Whit Fraser, Vice Regal Consort of Canada

"Profoundly moving and surprisingly optimistic." —Charlotte Gray, (CM), author of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

"The long-matured work of a true elder, this magnificent book is a sober masterpiece of sacred activism." —Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

"A powerful, readable, personal, and uniquely informed review of the historic damage done to Indigenous people in Canada and a compelling reminder of how and why we can change that legacy. I strongly recommend this book." —The Right Honourable Joe Clark

"This is a book for all Canadians. It presents an account of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work that is both painful and inspiring to read. The stories and experiences that Marie Wilson shares are deeply personal, and they call us each to look within ourselves to find the ways we can be part of the important work of reconciliation." — Nora Sanders, former General Secretary, United Church of Canada

"In North of Nowhere, Marie Wilson honours her vow to residential school Survivors to ‘do no harm’ and to bear witness to and honour their experiences ‘I see you. I hear you. I believe you. And I love you’—Marie’s words as a Commissioner to Survivors set the tone for this very important book." — Perry Bellegarde, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

"Truth must come before reconciliation; this book will empower Canadians to focus on what we can control today when it comes to implementing the Calls to Action. This book advocates for building awareness, understanding, and long-term relationships between Indigenous people and Canadians. If every Canadian reads this book, the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action can be achieved." —Cadmus Delorme, former chief of Cowessess First Nation

"We ask and demand so much of our leaders and healers. And we expect that while they work, they also hold space for us. In that space is our healing. The Commissioners heard it all—an emotional snapshot, a glimpse of our collective history—and held it throughout and carried on, every day. Words like Marie Wilson's, from her beautiful soul, are the salve." — Susan Aglukark, Juno Award–winning Inuk musician, author, and philanthropist

"Marie Wilson places her own life and story in the service of reconciliation, as an agent for truth and as a reporter for the TRC story, whose legacy has profoundly changed this country for the better." —Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

"TRC Commissioner Dr. Marie Wilson’s book, North of Nowhere, takes its reader on a six-and-a-half-year journey to Canada’s Indigenous communities. Here the reader experiences the sadness, courage, and resilience of Canada’s residential school Survivors. North of Nowhere combines the passion of a truth-teller with the objectivity and impartiality of a journalist, balanced with the heart of both a mother and grandmother. Dr. Wilson’s masterful work speaks for children whose voices have been silenced and whose stories have remained untold, allowing Survivors to continue their healing through the inspirational examples and words of many others. The reader is invited to bear witness to the heartbreaks, courage, and resilience of these Survivors. Dr. Wilson opens a doorway, allowing her readers to both witness and reconcile with this dark chapter in Canada’s history." — Jane Middelton-Moz, therapist, author, and founder of the MSW Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency (ITR) Program at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

"Journalist Marie Wilson brings us into the emotion-charged rooms, the sacred spaces of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation hearings. She listens with the heart of a mother, looking into the souls of the adult Survivors standing before her and seeing the children they once were. Though she holds nothing back, in the end this is a triumphant, restorative narrative—a testament to the healing that happens when we share our deepest, darkest truths." — Judy Rodgers, founding director of Images & Voice of Hope, board member of The Peace Studio

"TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson beautifully centres the Survivors at the heart of her book. North of Nowhere includes stories of heartbreak and of loss but also celebrates stories of resurgence and redemption. It powerfully ruptures the colonial myth-making and storytelling that has for so long suppressed Indigenous voices, languages, and cultures. Commissioner Wilson calls on everyone and, in particular, invites Canadians to bear witness and to promise in a sacred trust to never stop telling the stories of residential school Survivors. A trust that is binding upon us for as long as the river flows." — Tammara Soma, assistant professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University

"North of Nowhere is a must-read for public and private funders and philanthropists who share a sense of outrage at the intergenerational harms of residential schools. Marie Wilson’s deeply personal story gives new meaning to the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and what still urgently needs to be done to fill the glaring educational, economic, and sociopolitical gaps that continue to exist. She makes it clear that the tangible, specific, and urgent Calls to Action of the Commission are not limited to the federal government, but apply to all sectors of society. As such, she challenges us all as the inheritors of the history and harms of residential schools ‘to do more, to do differently, and to do better.’" — Nancy MacPherson, former managing director, the Rockefeller Foundation; former acting chief impact officer, the Mastercard Foundation

"Marie Wilson has the power to inspire people. This power emanates from deep inside her being. In North of Nowhere, she combines her rare insight with her ability to be a beacon of inspiration. She has turned the story of the Canadian TRC into a healing narrative for the whole world." — Sylvia Vollenhoven, South African journalist, managing director of Vision in Africa

"Through vivid personal stories, Marie Wilson transmits both the tremendous technical challenges of the TRC journey, and even more importantly, the passion, courage, and heart that are needed to move towards reconciliation, one story at a time. North of Nowhere fills a crucial void in the literature on truth commissions and transitional justice: the heart element of this work." — Virginie Ladisch, International Center for Transitional Justice

"During Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I watched Marie Wilson listen so deeply to so many Survivors who shared their terrible truths, and I wondered: How could she bear to witness it all? We find out in this heartfelt book, crafted from the careful observations of a seasoned journalist, mother, and grandmother. An insider’s look at the TRC, a meditation on love, and a timely reminder that we as a country cannot ignore our painful past if we hope to move forward together." — Duncan McCue, professor of Indigenous journalism and (story)telling at Carleton University, author of Decolonizing Journalism: A Guide to Reporting in Indigenous Communities

"North of Nowhere is both a necessary call and a collaborative invitation for all Canadians. A beautiful blend of both a heartbreaking account and an inspiring call to rise, told with the care and empathy of a mother. Even in the midst of residential school despair, there are glimpses of hope in seeing how sport could briefly lift the spirits of struggling children, serving as a powerful reminder of the importance of sport in reconciliation." — Lizanne Murphy, Canadian women’s basketball Olympian

"This amazing, compelling, and moving book from former journalist, Commissioner, and Warrior Marie Wilson, is not only a testimony of the stories, the tears, the smell, the ache, and the hopes heard during the TRC, and the behind-the-scenes camaraderie between the three Commissioners. It is a real gift to humanity to immortalize the spirit of the TRC hearings, a call for a new beginning, and a special blessing bringing the circles of truth and light to healing. I cried. I got angry. I felt ashamed. I smiled. I laughed. I got inspired. I am hopeful for the future. Thank you, Marie, for your openness and authenticity in sharing those stories so that they become our stories for generations to come." — Denise Amyot, former president of Colleges Institutes Canada and former ADM and CEO of a federal Crown corporation in the Government of Canada

"Marie Wilson's book, North of Nowhere, is a tour de force. It's that rare thing: both an intimate memoir and a compelling portrait of a crucial part of Canada's past and present. The only woman, northerner, and non-Indigenous member of the three TRC commissioners, Wilson brought a unique combination of journalism skills and cross-cultural experience as a member of a Dene family to the most revealing and far-reaching inquiry into Indigenous peoples' individual and collective experiences with the country's residential school system. Told with nuance, deep insight, and power, this book offers the reader a unique chance for understanding Canada's past and present, all told in an intimate, illuminating, and compelling story." — Cynthia Reyes, author of A Good Home and An Honest House