How curious, that something I researched years ago, intended to play a small part in The Gift of Guylaine Claire, would surface as a current events issue simultaneously with the publication of the book.
I was looking for a concept sculpture, something to tie Guylaine to her indigenous roots and to Canadian history. (Something beyond the famous Maisonneuve monument in Montreal.) Even in fiction I like to find actual historical events that give my work texture and depth. In my search, I found Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri was perfect. Her story mirrored the story I’d created for Guylaine’s grandmother, Claire, in that she was a native Christian convert, whose family and tribe ostracized her for her conversion. And, like Claire, her faith was deeper than that of those who’d lead her to it. Her childhood affliction with smallpox left her partially blind and disfigured and yet she was not bitter. She traveled hundreds of miles alone through the wilderness to find a community that would accept her. There, she lived a short life of service. Kateri is historically documented, as are many of the miracles attributed to her. In short, Kateri was a dream story come true as a subject for my fictional French-Canadian/Métis sculptor. She became a small part of the Guylaine Claire story.
It turns out that, after three and a half centuries, Kateri is about to finally achieve the ultimate recognition for her toil. On October 21, the Roman Catholic Church will canonize her as Saint Kateri. She will be the only First Nations individual to ever be so recognized. (Saints don’t just come along every day, you know.) Her story straddles the current day borders of New York and Quebec so she will be celebrated as an American, Canadian and First Nations Saint.
The Gift of Guylaine Claire is not exactly a glowing endorsement of traditional Catholicism. It is, however, a tribute to finding one’s own transcendent path regardless of any specific belief system or circumstance, in an atmosphere of forgiveness, loving and tolerance.
And with that, I announce the print release of The Gift of Guylaine Claire. It is now available* at your online retailer or, by request, at many fine brick-and-mortar book stores.
*also available as an ebook through Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook outlets.