Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman

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Vintage Canada, 1999 - Fiction - 464 pages
The powerful, major book, acclaimed across Canada, from the great-great-granddaughter of Chief Big Bear and by Rudy Wiebe, twice winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction.

This is a story about justice, and terrible injustices, a story about a murder, and a courtroom drama as compelling as any thriller as it unravels the events that put Yvonne Johnson behind bars for life, first in Kingston's Federal Prison for Women until the riot that closed it, and later in the Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge in the Cypress Hills. But above all it is the unforgettable true story of the life of a Native woman who has decided to speak out and break the silence, written with the redeeming compassion that marks all Rudy Wiebe's writing, and informed throughout by Yvonne Johnson's own intelligence and poetic eloquence.

How the great-great-granddaughter of Big Bear reached out to the author of The Temptations of Big Bear to help her tell her story is itself an extraordinary tale. The co-authorship between one of Canada's foremost writers and the only Native woman in Canada serving life imprisonment for murder produced a deeply moving, raw and honest book that speaks to all of us, and gives us new insight into the society we live in, while offering a deeply moving affirmation of spiritual healing.

Stolen Life is a raw, honest, and beautifully written account of the troubled society we live in, and a deeply moving affirmation of spiritual healing.


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Not everything written in this book is the god given truth this book may have help my aunty but it has also destroyed many of our family members lives including my self. If anyone should have a stolen life it should be me and my sisters. We had to live with this book hanging over our heads since i can remeber. Being teased in school to being threatened and denied some of lifes preks, such as friendship, relationships. Also being the center of alot of peples anger. I hate this book because of what it has done to me and my sisters. But i Love my aunty.  

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People this book has pulled the wool over many people eyes. Rudy Wiebe made this woman look like a strong woman who is dealing with her issues. Even I was intimidated by her. It wasnt until I met her and saw the real her that I found out she is not that person. She is still in denial of the crime she committed. I know all this because I am one of the victim's. Since September 15, 1989 it has all been about Yvonne. She portrays herself as this poor victim, which she is, but that does not justify murder. What about our family. For more information please go to our website:  


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Wetaskiwin The Place Where Peace Is Made
Three Days in September 1989
What You Did and Where You Did It

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About the author (1999)

Yvonne Johnson, a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, was imprisoned for first-degree murder in 1991 in the Kingston Federal Prison for Women. Married with three children, she is now at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge for Native Women in Saskatchewan.

Rudy Wiebe is the author of three short-story collections, eight novels and a book of essays, and twice winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction.

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