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Book review: The Peacekeeper

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Reviewed by Karl Hele

The Peacekeeper: A Novel (The Good Lands) is an excellent debut novel in a series for B.L. Blanchard who originally hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The novel is set within Baawitigong and the Great Lakes in a past-present-future where North America was never colonized. This alone makes The Peacekeeper an interesting read just to follow how Blanchard constructed a world where the Anishinaabeg created a thriving modern culture replete with cellphones and flat-screens, yet are firmly anchored in our cultural ways, such as Mino-Bimaadiziwin.

Baawitigong is a small rural town that becomes a tourist mecca from summer to fall, particularly so during the Manomin celebrations. The Peacekeeper begins during a Manomin festival 20 years after Chibenashi’s mother was murdered by his father. This left Chibenashi, now a Peacekeeper, to care for his traumatized younger sister for two decades while largely unable to deal with his own feelings of regret, guilt, and shame.

The murder of his mother’s best friend, 20 years after his mother’s death, leads Chibenashi to uncover the truth behind two seemingly unconnected events while caring for and protecting his traumatized sister. During his investigation, Chibenashi travels to the city of Shikaakwa (Chicago) where there are skyscrapers covered in forests, and people from his past and present reside. In the city, he uncovers truths and lies about his mother, her friend, and their families while unravelling who committed the recent murder. Throughout the process of his investigation, Chibenashi also learns about himself and finally deals with the demons of his past, creating the possibility of a new future.

I like how The Peacekeeper, as a work of detective fiction, is also a work of Indigenous futurism. It was interesting to see how Blanchard envisioned an Anishinaabeg future without colonization based on our core values – without creating an idyllic utopia. There are always cracks and gaps within any system. It was also fun to follow Chibenashi as he clumsily but passionately and single-mindedly investigates the murders. I would like to say that the uncovering of the murder was a surprise but unfortunately the hints laid by Blanchard allowed for an educated guess about two-thirds of the way into the book. Despite being able to guess the identity of the perpetrator, The Peacekeeper remained enthralling until the last pages.

B.L. Blanchard, The Peace Keeper. Seattle, Washington: 47North, 2022.

ISBN: 9781542036511

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Lead Facilitator – Circle Process

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ANISHINABEK NATION “To give a voice to the vision of the Anishinabek Nation and to preserve  Anishinaabe Bimaadziwin while advancing our goal of Nationhood.” Employment Opportunity LEAD FACILITATOR – CIRCLE […]

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Rice will serve as a mentor for program featuring budding Indigenous writers

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By Sam Laskaris SUDBURY – When Anishinabek writer Waubgeshig Rice found out he had a chance to serve as a mentor for young Indigenous writers he jumped at the opportunity. […]

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Inherent rights highlighted at the 8th annual Anishinabek Nation Lands and Resources Forum

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By Kelly Anne Smith NORTH BAY— Concerns of climate change, extreme mining claims, and the health of the Great Lakes were heard over three days at the 8th annual Anishinabek […]

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