Remembrance Day is an excellent time to look at Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road.
The novel is set in the early1900s, as the British Empire sends a call to Canada to fill the ranks of its military. The story centers on Niska and her nephew, Xavier Bird. Niska escaped from a residential school as a young girl to live as her elders once had. She takes young Xavier from that same school and teaches him everything he needs to know to become a great hunter. Xavier and his friend Elijah, spend summers with Niska, learning the old ways. Too soon, these young hunters travel to Toronto where they enlist in the army and are sent to the front.
Alternating chapters tell Xavier’s and Niska’s stories. It is a heart-wrenching graphic story of the Great War, and the sad, powerful story of an aunt trying to reclaim the broken life of her only nephew when he returns from that war. This is a personal glimpse into two of the great tragedies of our Canadian history.