Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Reader's Diary #1404: David Alexander Robertson (writer), Scott B. Henderson (artist): Sugar Falls

I have found myself reading many of David Alexander Robertson's comics this year, despite frequently complaining of the same issue: the unnecessary frame stories. So why keep going back? I nonetheless admire Robertson's goals of highlighting the lives and events of various Indigenous Canadians.

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story also comes with a rather insignificant frame story (a high school teen has to do an assignment about residential schools), but fortunately that part is brief and soon the woman named Betsy who he decides to interview shares her memories and this is beautifully done.

While the hardships and ugliness are not ignored (physical and emotional abuse is shown, sexual abuse is implied), this is ultimately a story of support and resilience. In one powerful scene, Betsy is attending the funeral of a friend who drowned while trying to escape. She is not to young to miss the hypocrisy of the priest who preaches for the dead girl, even though he was the one she'd been trying to escape.

Henderson does an admirable job capturing the raw emotional scenes, especially from a young person's eyes. The priest and a nun, for example, are often seen glowering from above.

Sugar Falls is based on the true recollections of Betty Ross, an Elder from Cross Lake First Nation.

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