I grew up with a ghost in my house, a feminist for a grandma, and wishing I had a buffalo for a pet. Now I’m a writer!
I like to write stories about all kinds of people and their journeys. I like scary journeys, crazy journeys, impossible journeys, or when people have scary, crazy, impossible journeys—those are fab! I also like abstract dreams and abstract thoughts and abstract paintings! Most of all, I like when ordinary children overcome impossible situations by being simply inspirational. Those are the best stories!
- My full name is actually Deidre D Daily Havrelock, but that’s a lot of Ds! So just call me Deidre (Dee-dra) and we’ll get along fine.
- My husband, my cat, and ALL my kid’s names also begin with the letter D. (I don’t know why that happened… it’s weird.)
- My favorite animal is… the buffalo!
- I am Irish on my Dad’s side and Cree on my mother’s side. I am a First Nations woman.
- Yes, I am a feminist just like my grandma!
What does First Nations Mean?
Since early European explorers thought they were in India when they landed in North America, they called the inhabitants that lived here “Indians” as in “East Indians.” But today, in Canada, the descendants of those North American Indian people now prefer to be called First Nations (other distinct indigenous people also living in Canada are the Inuit and Métis). First Nations people also identify themselves by the nation to which they belong, for example: Mohawk, Cree, Oneida, and so on. I am Cree First Nation; my family comes from the Saddle Lake Reserve in Alberta, Canada.
First Nations (or North American Indian): includes 617 First Nation communities across all of Canada. LINK TO MAP
Indigenous (or Aboriginal): includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.
What is a Feminist?
Feminism means a lot of different things to different people. For me feminism is about not placing unfair or harmful limits/restrictions on each other simply because of gender. I believe society is best served when both boys and girls are free to pursue their own personal excellence according to their innate talents, gifts, and interests. Unfortunately, often times (but not all the time), girls are the ones who are restricted, undervalued, or misrepresented in what they can do and achieve. I’m a girl and I’ve experienced being restricted because of my gender, so that’s why I’m a feminist.
For example, when I first started writing for children, I was told to ALWAYS make my main characters boys. The thought was that girls will read stories about BOTH boy characters and girl characters, but boys would NOT read about girls. Therefore, if you wanted to sell your books to both boys and girls (a larger audience) then it was wise to make your main character a boy.
But then wouldn’t we have libraries full of children’s books about boys and few about girls? Not surprisingly, yes, we now have libraries full of stories about boys and few about girls. Today, many writers are working to balance this.
Sometimes, being a feminist means coming up against ideas that seem good but are really unfair, untrue, or harmful to society. The truth is, we need to read stories about BOTH girls and boys because both girls and boys have important things to say to the world. And both girls and boys need to see themselves portrayed in books where they are the hero and the lead.
Who is my Grandmother… and Why is She a Feminist?
My grandmother is Nellie Makokis Carlson. She founded the organization Indian Rights for Indian Women back in the 1970s while living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where I was born. Her cause was known as Bill-C31. She fought to reinstate treaty rights to Canadian First Nations women who had lost their rights after marrying non-Indian men.
In 1876 the Government of Canada introduced the first Indian Act. It defined an “official Indian” as “any male person of Indian blood reputed to belong to a band, any child of such a person and any woman lawfully married to such a person.” Because of this act, the only Indian person that actually existed in Canada was that of a male Indian. Women were classified “Indian” only in relation to the person of their husband or father.
This caused a lot of problems for women and their children. If an Indian woman decided to marry a non-Indian man then she (and her children) risked losing their Indian status. Meanwhile, Indian men were allowed to keep their status no matter who they married. My grandmother thought this was unfair and wrong — after all, she was a person too.
Her book, Disinherited Generations: Our Struggle to Reclaim Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and their Descendants can be found here.
In 1988 my grandmother was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for her work in advancing gender equality. In 2016 she had a school named after her… we are all very proud of her!
Why do I Love… Love… LOVE Buffalo?
Buffalo (also called bison) are huge, wonderful, mystical creatures. I first saw one when my parents drove through Elk Island National Park when I was a kid. And yes, I had a stuffed animal that looked like a buffalo! Later, when I was in my 20s, I started a catering business where I served… you guessed it… buffalo meat! I wanted to re-introduce aboriginal people to their original food source. I even served buffalo at my own wedding! These days, I don’t eat buffalo as much as I write about them. I am WILD about buffalo!
In 2016, the United States of America made the bison their national mammal. Way to go America!