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The Word On The Street has been renowned for the quality and diversity of its event programming and our next festival promises to offer the best so far. Check out our 2020 schedule!

Saturday, September 19th: Virginia Bordeleau in conversation with Susan Ouriou – Blue Bear Woman

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Blue Bear Woman

Blue Bear Woman is the first novel written by an Indigenous woman that was published in Quebec in the French language. The story of a young Cree woman’s search for her roots and identity, Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau’s debut novel, Ourse bleue, was originally published in 2007, and is her second novel to be translated into English. The novel explores contemporary Indigenous life and the impact on the Cree of the building of the Eastmain dam in northern Quebec, posited as “virgin” territory, yet which has actually been part of the Cree traditional territory since time immemorial. In search of her roots, Victoria takes a trip to the country of her Cree ancestors with her companion, Daniel. It is a long journey to the north along the shores of James Bay. Colours, smells, and majestic landscapes arouse memories that soon devolve into strange and hauntings dreams at night. In bits and pieces, uncles, aunties, and cousins arrive to tell the story of Victoria’s family and bring with them images of her childhood that are tinged both with joy and sadness. Guided by her totem, the Blue Bear, she returns home to make peace with her soul, as well as release the soul of her Great-Uncle George, a hunter who has been missing in the forest for over twenty years.

  • Fiction
  • Indigenous

Susan Ouriou

Susan Ouriou is both a literary translator of over 40 works of fiction and non-fiction (French and Spanish to English) and a fiction writer. She has received the Governor General’s Literary Translation award and has edited the anthologies Beyond Words – Translating the World and Languages of Our Land – Indigenous Poems and Stories from Quebec. She takes great pleasure in working with Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau and, so far, has translated three of her novels and several poems and looks forward to many more.

Blue Bear Woman

Blue Bear Woman is the first novel written by an Indigenous woman that was published in Quebec in the French language. The story of a young Cree woman’s search for her roots and identity, Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau’s debut novel, Ourse bleue, was originally published in 2007, and is her second novel to be translated into English. The novel explores contemporary Indigenous life and the impact on the Cree of the building of the Eastmain dam in northern Quebec, posited as “virgin” territory, yet which has actually been part of the Cree traditional territory since time immemorial. In search of her roots, Victoria takes a trip to the country of her Cree ancestors with her companion, Daniel. It is a long journey to the north along the shores of James Bay. Colours, smells, and majestic landscapes arouse memories that soon devolve into strange and hauntings dreams at night. In bits and pieces, uncles, aunties, and cousins arrive to tell the story of Victoria’s family and bring with them images of her childhood that are tinged both with joy and sadness. Guided by her totem, the Blue Bear, she returns home to make peace with her soul, as well as release the soul of her Great-Uncle George, a hunter who has been missing in the forest for over twenty years.

  • Fiction
  • Indigenous

Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau

Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau is an internationally-recognized visual artist and author of Cree origin. She has published three novels and two poetry collections in French. Born in Rapides-des-Cèdres in 1951, of a Cree mother and a mixed-heritage Québécois father, she holds a Fine Arts Baccalaureate and has participated in numerous exhibitions in Quebec, United States, Mexico, Denmark, and received several awards for her art. In 2007, she published her first novel, Ourse Blue. Her collection of poetry, De rouge et de blanc (2012), was awarded the Abitibi-Témiscamingue literary prize. Her subsequent novels include L’amant du lac (2013) and L’enfant hiver (2014). In 2020, she received the 2020 award for artist of the year from the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec. She lives in Abitibi, in northwest Quebec.