a poet photographer

please note:

this is a mixture of my lazy academic reviews and personal moments as a mama going through academia, and it is all my own opinion, and has absolutely no affiliation with anybody else

writings & ramblings

Kiss of the Fur Queen – Tomson Highway

Main PlotKiss of the Fur Queen begins with the champion dog-sled racer Abraham Okimasis and the story of his two sons, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis from Eemanipiteepitat, Manitoba. Both brothers are taken from their families and sent to a residential school where they are unable to speak their language, forced to cut their hair, and renamed to Jeremiah and Gabriel. In their residential school experience, both brothers are physically and sexually abused at the hands of the priests …. The residential school is also the time that Gabriel meets the Fur Queen or better known as the trickster who watches over them throughout their lives. When he returns from residential school, Jeremiah moves to Winnipeg to pursue his interests in music…. Gabriel decides to join his brother in Winnipeg to continue his passion for dance. He embraces his homosexuality at a time when it was not safe to do so publicly, and self-medicates with drugs and alcohol. He turns to prostitution and endures vivid flashbacks of the abuse he suffered at the hands of the priests. Both brothers have troubles reconciling their two identities… (Wiki)

Main Characters:

  • Jeremiah Okimasis, piano player, the oldest brother, first winner of a big piano concert
  • Gabriel Okimasis, ballet dancer, two-spirited, abused as a youth, dies of AIDS


  • residential schools – this was hard to read, but important
  • religion and northern indigenous people – seeing and reading about the strong grasp that catholicism has on northern peoples as well as how the old traditions are/were beaten out
  • sexuality  the boys not being allowed to grow their sexuality in positive way – instead having it be molested and abused against  their will -and how their later coping mechanisms harmed them
  • art – as a dancer and as pianist – often in conflict with their traditional upbringings – “how do I say….” they often asked
  • kinship – the relations they had with one another and the only other brown girl in class, as well as other indigenous people


  • “He had sworn to his dear wife, Mariesis Okimasis, on pain of separation and divorce, unthinkable for a Roman Catholic in the year of our Lord 1951, that he would win the world championship just for her: the silver cup, that holy chalice was to be his twenty-first anniversary gift to her” (4)
  • “a young woman so fair her skin looked chisel out of arctic frost, her teeth pearls of ice, lips streaks of blood, eyes white flames in a pitch-black night, eyes that appeared to see nothing but the caribou hunter alone” (10)
  • “And then, Mariesis saw her sons, perched atop the large grey rock, glowing with triumph, Champion and Gabriel Okimasis, laughing” (47)
  • “The plane would rash and Champion would swim back and be home by sunset, Gabriel insisted. He would be very hungry” (48)
  • “We didn’t have much choice, he would have added, if the language had been his” (70)
  • “No, Jeremiah wailed to himself, please. Not him again. He took two soundless steps forward, craned his neck” (79)
  • “He could already taste the Cree on his tongue” (88)
  • “He had worked so hard at transforming himself into a perfect little “transplanted European” – anything to survive” (124)
  • “Beat by beat, step by step, the dance had seduced and then embraced Gabriel” (144)
  • “How, for God’s sake, did one say “concert pianist” in Cree?” (189)
  • “You try too hard. At everything. You an those lil-white fingers. That’s what you want, isn’t it? To become a whitman.” (207)
  • “And should the collar of his rented black tuxedo choke off his windpipe, so be it; hands on the keyboard, dressed for the casket, he would die a Cree hero’s death” (267)
  • “Rising from his body, Gabriel Okimasis and the Fur Queen coated off into the swirling mist, as the little white fox on the collar of the cape turned to Jeremiah. And winked” (306)

buy the book: Kiss of the Fur Queen 

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mood always

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e: tenille.campbell@gmail.com