The Cameron Ridge Conspiracy an intriguing read

Steve Hunter offers an account of the Cariboo Gold Rush told from a First Nations perspective in his novel The Cameron Ridge Conspiracy.

Steve Hunter gets it.

Despite a few cultural and historic inconsistencies, Hunter offers a delightful account of the Cariboo Gold Rush told from a First Nations’ perspective in his first historic fiction novel, The Cameron Ridge Conspiracy.

This is no small undertaking considering that the author is non-aboriginal.

Hunter uses his imagination and knowledge of place and time to lay out a plot in the Cariboo that is quite believable and consistent with the landscape and time period of the Gold Rush.

He writes sensitively with understanding of this tumultuous time. He describes the clash of cultures that transformed the country and particularly the lifestyle of the Aboriginal people and threatened to break their connection to the land.

Hunter obviously draws on his 30-year career as a social worker, much of it in the Cariboo Chilcotin, and his empathy with the Secwepemc (Shuswap), Dakelh (Southern Carrier) and Tsilhqot’in people.

He acknowledges the assistance he got from Secwepemc friend, Rosanna McGregor, who helped him fine-tune his understanding of the culture.

The theme of the novel centres around one of the most challenging moments of upheaval in the history of the Secwepemc.

In 1859 their culture and way of life was turned up-side-down in the face of the Gold Rush bringing a new breed of people into their territory – people who didn’t respect them or their relationship to the land.

The author doesn’t delve deeply into the hurt, heartbreak and bloody gore associated with this invasion by outside forces, but he lays the groundwork for the shift, showing the treachery, greed, racism and murder.

He also counters it with values of honour, wisdom, valour and principle shared by both the native and white cultures.

He shows how these values are intrinsic to survival.

Hunter points out positive relationships that did occur between the First Nations people and white settlers and the values they shared to build the community we call the Cariboo. He shows the roots of these values centred around family, children and true caring for each other.

There are thrilling moments in the novel as the reader is swept up by the drama of events and literally taken to the edge – especially in the last pages – to find out how justice is meted out.

It is a story about transformative change, confronting the inevitable, acting appropriately, and making the best of very difficult circumstances. It is about drawing on the loftier principles, albeit aided by cunning, to allow fair retribution to run its course.

A First Nations reader might take exception with some of the author’s liberties and artistic license he employs to tell the tale. After all Steve Hunter is white and there is an undeniable cultural gap that is unavoidable as a result.

Nevertheless, as a non-First Nations person myself who has worked with and written extensively about aboriginal culture in this region, I have to take my hat off to Steve. He is extremely brave walking into this abyss. God forbid, I’m not sure my feet would fit in his moccasins.

The book leaves me feeling uplifted.

Not only is there a sense of redemption for wrongs committed, there is a noble sense of hope that altruism in any culture will take you beyond the chaos and destruction.

Hunter says the book is a tribute to honour the First Nations people he spent a whole career working with.

“I wrote the book to craft my own version of the world and to set things in perspective,” he stated at his June 20 book launch at the Cariboo Arts Centre.

He started writing the book in January 2011 and when he was finished he spent six months shopping it around to trade publishers before deciding to publish it himself.

“It’s historical fiction told through the voice of a young Secwepemc woman who witnessed a tragic event,” he explains.

Rosanna McGregor who mentored Hunter on some aspects of Secwepemc culture, says she grew up in Beaver Valley near Horsefly.

“So I could relate to the area he’s describing in the novel.”

The Cameron Ridge Conspiracy is available locally at various outlets, The Open Book, the Station House Gallery and Save-On Foods book department.a.

This is no small undertaking considering that the author is non-aboriginal.

Hunter uses his imagination and knowledge of place and time to lay out a plot in the Cariboo that is quite believable and consistent with the landscape and time period of the Gold Rush.

He writes sensitively with understanding of this tumultuous time. He describes the clash of cultures that transformed the country and particularly the lifestyle of the Aboriginal people and threatened to break their connection to the land.

Hunter obviously draws on his 30-year career as a social worker, much of it in the Cariboo Chilcotin, and his empathy with the Secwepemc (Shuswap), Dakelh (Southern Carrier) and Tsilhqot’in people.

He acknowledges the assistance he got from Secwepemc friend, Rosanna McGregor, who helped him fine-tune his understanding of the culture.

The theme of the novel centres around one of the most challenging moments of upheaval in the history of the Secwepemc.

In 1859 their culture and way of life was turned up-side-down in the face of the Gold Rush bringing a new breed of people into their territory – people who didn’t respect them or their relationship to the land.

The author doesn’t delve deeply into the hurt, heartbreak and bloody gore associated with this invasion by outside forces, but he lays the groundwork for the shift, showing the treachery, greed, racism and murder.

He also counters it with values of honour, wisdom, valour and principle shared by both the native and white cultures.

He shows how these values are intrinsic to survival.

Hunter points out positive relationships that did occur between the First Nations people and white settlers and the values they shared to build the community we call the Cariboo. He shows the roots of these values centred around family, children and true caring for each other.

There are thrilling moments in the novel as the reader is swept up by the drama of events and literally taken to the edge – especially in the last pages – to find out how justice is meted out.

It is a story about transformative change, confronting the inevitable, acting appropriately, and making the best of very difficult circumstances. It is about drawing on the loftier principles, albeit aided by cunning, to allow fair retribution to run its course.

A First Nations reader might take exception with some of the author’s liberties and artistic license he employs to tell the tale. After all Steve Hunter is white and there is an undeniable cultural gap that is unavoidable as a result.

Nevertheless, as a non-First Nations person myself who has worked with and written extensively about aboriginal culture in this region, I have to take my hat off to Steve. He is extremely brave walking into this abyss. God forbid, I’m not sure my feet would fit in his moccasins.

The book leaves me feeling uplifted.

Not only is there a sense of redemption for wrongs committed, there is a noble sense of hope that altruism in any culture will take you beyond the chaos and destruction.

Hunter says the book is a tribute to honour the First Nations people he spent a whole career working with.

“I wrote the book to craft my own version of the world and to set things in perspective,” he stated at his June 20 book launch at the Cariboo Arts Centre.

He started writing the book in January 2011 and when he was finished he spent six months shopping it around to trade publishers before deciding to publish it himself.

“It’s historical fiction told through the voice of a young Secwepemc woman who witnessed a tragic event,” he explains.

Rosanna McGregor who mentored Hunter on some aspects of Secwepemc culture, says she grew up in Beaver Valley near Horsefly.

“So I could relate to the area he’s describing in the novel.”

The Cameron Ridge Conspiracy is available locally at various outlets, The Open Book, the Station House Gallery and Save-On Foods book department.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 president David Brideau salutes the Cenotaph at city hall during a past Remembrance Day services in Williams Lake Monday, Nov. 11. Brideau, who served three years with the Canadian military in Edmonton, was the parade commander during the Legion’s Remembrance Day service. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake legion looks to upgrade lounge, patio, to be COVID compliant

Upgrades will require significant financial investment, Branch 139 president David Brideau said

Williams Lake’s Daine Dubois (left) and 150 Mile House’s Isaac Bedford have been named as recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. (Tribune file photos)
Two Cariboo athletes honoured with Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport

“You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families.”

A worker at Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake. (Taseko Mines Ltd. photo)
B.C. Mining Month celebrates innovation

Mining has long been important to the Williams Lake economy

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read