Yvonne Johnson's Stolen Life

  • Ruby Wiebe (Author) and Yvonne Johnson (Author)
    Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman. Knopf Canada (purchase at Amazon.ca)

Reviewed by Heather Hodgson

Stolen Life is the story of Yvonne Johnson’s life and of how she came to be "the only Native woman in Canada serving a twenty-five-year sentence for first-degree murder." Yvonne was born to a Cree mother and a Norwegian father. Her parents and siblings were all victims of poverty, addiction, and various forms of abuse. Yvonne’s childhood, the years she spent on skid row in Winnipeg, and the events that occurred on the night of September 14th, 1989, are horrific. Yet the story is hard to put down because it engenders in the reader a faint hope that Yvonne will find a way to redeem what she has endured. That hope keeps one reading when, alas, the worst is yet to come. And because of the way Wiebe and Johnson present the facts, readers are left to judge what story they will believe. In sharp contrast to traditional postures of disengagement, readers of this book are engaged from the start. There may be disagreement among readers about whom to believe, but few will be unmoved by Yvonne’s story.