There are so many people that I wish to thank, without whom this book would not be possible. First and foremost I must thank my beautiful wife Angie for putting up with this obsession for so long. I hope that the joy these words bring to the people will make up for the many nights I was home, but not home. Next, to my sister Angela who taught me to read and write when the teachers had dismissed my intelligence because of the colour of my skin. Thirty years later, you again pushed me to rise above what was expected of me and to complete the first draft in only a few short months. To Beverley Rach at Fernwood/Roseway for discovering my work amongst the slush pile of undoubtedly better written pieces and seeing the potential in what it could become. To my editor, Sandra McIntyre for taking a lump of coal and turning it into a diamond. To Edith Friesen for encouragement, inspiration and for welcoming me into the world of authors. It would have been a very lonely place to walk into if I had to walk it alone like so many others. To Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair for giving me a reality check early on. Your candour saved me from a lot of disappointment and heartbreak when I learned what to expect from publishing.
To the Elders who took the time to give me the teachings: Jules and Margaret Lavallee, Rodger and Caroline McDougall, David Blacksmith, Colin Mousseau, Myra Laramee, Calvin Pompana, Wilfred Ambigosis, Roger Armite, Art Shofley, Wes and Anne Charter, Gerald Morgan, Wilfred Buck, Carl Stone, Marcel French, Allen Sutherland, Bill Crompton, Horace Halcrow, Mervin Garrick, Martin Nicholas, Phillip Gatensby and many others whose names I never learned but who’s teachings stayed with me long after our paths diverged.
To my family and friends who read early versions, bits and pieces and encouraged me to do this: Ryan and Thera Gorrie, Karl and Patricia Schwab, Remi and Marcia Landes, Joanne Henry, Delaphine Bighetty, Ron Phillips, Keely Phillips, Grant Stone, Bill and Fay Richards, Angie Renee Bonner, my nieces Alexis, Savannah and Samiya Busch, my nephews Jerome Busch Jr. and Fred Kosmolak, Cynthia Robinson, Dwayne Bird, Karl Barker, Brad Cockerill, Reg Bergmann, Linda Thaler, Tammy Lynne Elder, Lora Kay, Shawn Reynolds, Malcolm McColl, Julian McKay, Marilee Bittner-Fawcett and all my friends on the “Grey Eyes, a Native Novel” Facebook group.
To those Indigenous Authors who came before me and broke the trail for a new generation to follow.
And last but not least, to the students of the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg’s Adult Ed class of 2012 who read the unedited manuscript as I was writing it and provided feedback by way of their assignments and quizzes: Robert Colomb, Gabriel Merasty Jr., Alexis Thomas, Kristin Sinclair, Betty Maud, Brandi Hanslip, Brittney Phillips, Cheryl Shappee, Courtney Bird, Effie Ross, Kenneth Bradburn, Kristin Monkman, Sharla Bluebird, Stephanie Head, Blackwolf Hart and any other students who’s names I didn’t get. Reading your comments, analysis and critiques helped shape the work. I hope that seeing my journey and helping me along the way will inspire you to succeed in whatever endeavour you choose. Ekosani.