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Indigenous author’s book a 10-year project

Calling My Spirit Back details Elaine Alec’s own experiences with childhood sexual abuse, racism, and alcoholism, as well as her path to healing.
Elaine Alec
Elaine Alec with her book, Calling My Spirit Back. “It was really difficult work to do,” she said of the sessions. “But it was also really healing.”

Elaine Alec didn’t know that her book, Calling My Spirit Back, would arrive in the midst of a near-global conversation about race and racism, but that’s ultimately what happened when it launched on July 24.

The book, which details Alec’s own experiences with childhood sexual abuse, racism, and alcoholism, as well as her path to healing, is her first.

It’s a project that’s been calling to her for more than 10 years.

After facilitating a dozen sessions across the province, talking to communities about Indigenous women’s safety in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Alec decided it was finally time to put her story down.

“It was really difficult work to do,” the Kamloops resident said of the sessions.

“But it was also really healing.”

Alec managed to get her first draft out in only 29 days, with the initial 100 pages taking her the most time because of the difficulty in reliving those early experiences.

“It affected me more than I thought it would,” she said.

Alec, who is now 42, was able to reach out to friends for emotional support. She also began seeing a trauma therapist to help her with the feelings she was struggling with during her work on the book.

Since its release, the self-published book has reached the Amazon bestseller list under categories like Women’s Studies and Substance Abuse and is on the shelves at Chapters.

It’s also been promoted by a number of online influencers, which took the author by surprise.

“I actually started feeling anxiety when people were reaching out to me,” she said.

“I didn’t expect that many people to read it.”

But people have been reading, with hundreds of sales via Amazon through the final week of July — substantially more than the 50 copies per month she was told to expect from a self-published manuscript.

Ultimately, Alec sees the current conversations around racism as a positive discussion.

“To see people stepping up, wanting to provide safe space for Indigenous people in Canada, has been really emotional for me,” she said.

“For the first time in my life, I actually have some hope that things might be different for my children.”

Print copies of Calling My Spirit Back are available at Chapters and electronic versions can be found at online retailers like Chapters and Amazon.

Links to purchase copies online can be found at Alec’s website at elainealec.com.