In this challenging memoir about her formative years in Yellowknife in the ’60s and ’70s, author Margaret Macpherson lays bare her own white privilege, her multitude of unexamined microaggressions, and how her childhood was shaped by the colonialism and systemic racism that continues today. Macpherson’s father, first a principal and later a federal government administrator, oversaw education in the NWT, including the high school Margaret attended with its attached hostel: a residential facility mostly housing Indigenous children.
Ringing with damning and painful truths, this bittersweet telling invites white readers to examine their own personal histories in order to begin to right relations with the Indigenous Peoples on whose land they live. Tracking the Caribou Queen is beautifully crafted to a purpose: poetic language and narrative threads dissect the trope that persisted through her girlhood, that of the Caribou Queen, a woman who seemed to embody extreme and contradictory stereotypes of Indigeneity. Here, Macpherson is not striving for a tidy ideal of “reconciliation”; what she is working towards is much messier, more complex and ambivalent and, ultimately, more equitable.
Tracking The Caribou Queen
“This is a brave, unsparing story by a gifted writer with her eyes wide open to Canada’s hypocrisies. Can we find the courage to look at our own hometowns with Margaret Macpherson’s unflinching gaze? She insists we try.”
-LINDA GOYETTE, co-author with Kathleen Steinhauser and Nellie Carlson of Disinherited Generations: Our Struggle to Reclaim Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and Their Descendants
“Macpherson uses a deft touch to write about the unintended racism she participated in as a child and teenager in Yellowknife, NWT. From sweetly touching to intensely honest, this memoir takes a hard look at the author’s complicity in perpetuating stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”
-RHONDA KRONYK,contributor to In This Together and editor of Gather
“Margaret Macpherson’s memoir invites us all to reckon with our own stories of white privilege, entitlement, and racism, so we may participate fully in undoing the paternalism, misogyny, and patriarchy that have shaped and benefitted all colonizing peoples. You will be deeply moved as you read Macpherson’s disturbingly real, honest, raw, searingly sad, and finally hopeful story.”
-NAOMI MCILWRAITH, author of kiyâm
Episode #113: Margaret Macpherson/TRACKING THE CARIBOU QUEEN • 44 min
Margaret Macpherson dropped by to talk about her incisive and important new memoir TRACKING THE CARIBOU QUEEN. Along the way, we talked about the difficulty in writing about systemic racism and the colonial system, as well as why some stories work better as creative non-fiction and others as fiction.