Letters to son basis of inmate's novel
- EFN Staff | September 27, 2017
An inmate at the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre (RPCC) released a book with hopes of reaching out to his son. Mitchell Moise, 38, from Muskowekwan First Nation, wrote almost every day since he’s been locked up for almost 10 years.
“I picked up a pen and paper and started [writing] a letter to my son,” he said. “I tried to give him some insight and encouraged him to take a more positive path in life. The letter continued to grow. It went from one page and so on.”
Moise has been in touch with one of his mentors, Rochelle Sato, who was his sociology instructor at one time. She encouraged him that he had more than a letter to his son but he had a potential book in his hands.
“I didn’t think it was worthy of being a book or nothing,” said Moise, author of Letter to Cody. “I just thought it was a way for me to express my heartfelt emotion and my deepest inner-most thoughts, values and beliefs with my son.”
Sato’s been working with Moise since 2012 through phone and mail, and she noticed that he had a unique writing styling that was compelling and insightful about his experiences being incarcerated as a young man until now.
“He has shared many of his writings with me and has been quite surprised when I have suggested that these are publishable materials,” she said in a media release. “He chose to write an open letter to his son, Cody, explaining how he came to be incarcerated, apologizing for not being there as a father and as a good male Aboriginal role model, and with a warning to not follow the same path.”
Moise wanted to find a way to share his story with his son without glorifying the violent life he led. He hopes his son Cody, 18, will understand his life story and the broken past he lived. Moise grew up without truly knowing his father, who was also incarcerated as he grew up. His parents are survivors of the residential school system that resulted in the cycle of violence and abuse towards him. Through life’s challenges as an alcohol abuser and his involvement in gang violence, Moise did not want his son to learn about him and his past from other people and media reports but through a book written specifically for him.
Sato believes this book will be an invaluable resource in the various Indigenous Education programs in the public-school system and for the Canadian public in general to combat negative stereotypes.
“Suffice to say that I believe that this view of Aboriginal people is common, although short-sighted, incorrect, and unhelpful,” she said. “I think that Mitchell’s book will help Canadians to understand the dynamics that have led to this belief about Native people as a whole.”
Moise has been incarcerated for nine years and is considered a dangerous offender and holds the Canadian record for being in remand unit for a long-time period. His criminal record is lengthy, and he currently does not have a release date. He is awaiting another hearing pending on the outcome of a psychiatric evaluation to see if he is deemed fit to be released back into society.