68 pages 2 hours read

Tomson Highway

Kiss of the Fur Queen

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1998

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Character Analysis

Abraham Okimasis

Abraham Okimasis is a Cree caribou hunter who lives on the reservation of Eemanapiteepitat near Mistik Lake, a small town in Manitoba, Canada. Married to Mariesis, Abraham has seven surviving children with her, including Jeremiah and Gabriel. A devout Roman Catholic, Abraham represents a generation of Cree people who lived on the reservation, obedient to Catholicism but proud of their heritage. The novel opens with Abraham winning the 1951 Millington Cup World Championship Dog Derby—the first Indigenous Canadian to achieve the feat. Thus, the novel depicts Abraham as competitive and dynamic. He is also a good provider for his family, hunting off the land and lake to keep them well fed. He combines these attributes with great gentleness towards his wife and children, winning their adoration. Abraham’s exuberant use of Cree in expressions such as “Weeks’chiloowew!” has a profound impact on his children, who forever associate the language—and their father—with courage, humor, and joyfulness.

If Abraham has a flaw, it is his blind faith in local priest Father Bouchard and Catholicism. Abraham refuses to speak to his sister Black-eyed Susan Magipom because Father Bouchard excommunicates her simply for leaving behind her abusive husband. Further, he unquestioningly sends his children to Birch Lake Residential School and remains ignorant of their abuse there (notably, his name alludes to the biblical patriarch who was prepared to sacrifice his son on God’s command).

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