For his ninth novel, Mirages on the Vallée-de-l’Or, the writer Claire Bergeron has drawn part of her story from family memories. In this thriller, she talks about life in Abitibi, the strong bonds of friendship that are forged there, but also talks about Native residential schools and the difficult journey of Native American women.
Claire Bergeron was born in La Sarre, like her father and grandfather, and lived for many years in Abitibi before settling in Laval. She incorporated many family memories into this new novel, set in the 1950s.
“In the 1960s, my father built a school in the village of Obedjiwan, which is mentioned in the book. At that time, my brother, Jean-Marie, was preparing to enter medicine at Laval University and during this summer, he had accompanied my father who was building the school. He had had a little romance – very pure and very romantic – with a young local native named Agathe. “
When she started writing the novel, Claire Bergeron remembered this. “I have always had a lot of respect and a lot of esteem for the natives. As a young nurse in Abitibi, I befriended an Aboriginal nurse who worked in a sanatorium. I still had a lot of contact with them. “
To write the novel, she made two new trips to Abitibi. “I took the North Train, which goes from Montreal to Senneterre – it is mentioned in the novel. Then I made another trip to go to Saint-Marc-de-Figuery, where there was an aboriginal boarding school in the 1950s. ”
The local mayor introduced her to elderly people who had known the residential school as well as to a native elder. “After meeting these people, I saw that it was a bit tricky to write about the boarding school. It is mentioned in the novel, but it is not the main element, ”notes the author.
Claire wanted to pay tribute to indigenous women in her novel, through the fictional story of Agathe Nikweto. This woman, a victim of residential school abuse in the 1940s, does everything to ensure that her son, Richard, can pursue higher education. Richard befriends Étienne, a young Quebecer who recently moved to Abitibi with his father.
“This woman was abused at the age of 15 and fled to Val-d’Or with her child to save him from residential school. I created a male character who also experiences difficult things. The two meet in Val-d’Or. “
Val-d’Or … mythical city where people could win everything and lose everything.
Claire Bergeron has researched a lot to write her novel. She also visited the Cité de l’Or during her visit to the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Book Fair. “I’m passionate about history – that’s why my thrillers are always on a historical thread. “
She also asked an Indigenous woman who participated in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Natacha Rankin Tanguay, to proofread her manuscript.
Claire Bergeron lived for several years in La Sarre, in Abitibi, before moving to Laval.
His bestsellers have touched the hearts of thousands of readers on several continents.
She wrote Under the cloak of silence, The Cursed Lovers of Spirit Lake and The crime of Sister Marie-Hosanna, among others.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my [email protected] 1-800-268-7116