By Jordan Wheeler
I’d like to share some insights into who and what inspired me to write the story Digital Ogichida.
Maria Morrison, first of all, as she hired me to write it and we talked through some of the parameters that could be included in this story. After that, it was the Idle No More movement. I’d been to the early rallies and they became some of the backdrops in the story. The four women who founded the movement are in the special thanks list inside the book.
The character Dawn Mukwa was based on some of the young people who were present at those round dances and rallies. Kevin Davis’ character was partly based on those who were not at the rallies.
Details were gleaned from years of winters, protests and rallies from years gone by. Auntie Marji is thanked in the book. She was in Wounded Knee in ’73 (known in the States as Carla Blakey. She was the other woman from Canada in the occupation). My sister Winona had her picture taken in Anicinabe Park in Kenora during the occupation in 1974. Her back was to the camera but the picture wound up on the cover of the Winnipeg Free Press. My niece, Theresa, went to the Grassy Narrows blockades. Being a writer and communicator, like my mother who aimed her CBC microphone at the riot police as they banged their shields and bore down on (and then beat) Native women and children on Parliament Hill in 1975, I write about these times.
I edited the Weetamah newspaper in Winnipeg in 1990 when the late Elijah Harper killed the Meech Lake Accord and during Oka Summer. So, when Idle No More happened, I took the pen over the sword again and jumped at the chance to write what became Digital Ogichida.
You could say it’s in the blood.