It’s a question that I’m often asked and at times during the book’s six year gestation, I sometimes wondered myself. There were many reasons, including being raised and educated within a Catholic environment where although fortunate to never have faced the abuse experienced by Blue, I was shocked by the revelations that began to surface concerning people I had been taught to trust and revere.

Everything on this subject that I read or watched on television was reported in a formal documentary fashion and although vivid and factual, the stories didn’t really have that much effect on me because like most white Canadians, I didn’t personally know any Indian/Aboriginal/First Nations people which made it difficult to internalize the issue. 

I felt that a gripping story about an empathetic protagonist with whom readers of all backgrounds could identify, would be a more effective means of raising public awareness and understanding about what actually happened to “real people” within the Indian Residential School System for almost a hundred years.

This is exactly what is happening. More and more readers are telling me that they have come to care about the book’s main character, Blue Saltwater, and that they found themselves wincing for him when things went bad and routing for him as he fought to overcome the challenges he faced. Some have said they felt sad for Blue and others have said they immediately think of him whenever there is something in the news about First Nations and the residential schools. This is what I call building awareness!

As an increasing number of Canadians begin to know and care about Blue the person, a more informed dialogue will emerge that will allow us to heal the wounds of the past and build a positive future for all our children.