Dene author says storytelling is catalyst for healing in debut novel

Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a is an ode to everything the creator made, says Catherine Lafferty

Lafferty says she hopes to create a trilogy series out of Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a in the next few years. (Photo courtesy of Catherine Lafferty)

In her debut novel, the Yellowknife author shares an intimate work of fiction on the idea that through storytelling, readers can heal past traumas.

In Ndè-Tı-Yat’a, Lafferty confronts the themes of identity, stereotypes, language and abuse.

Rooted in her own truth and lived experiences, Lafferty says, these are important conversations that must be had “because they’re not being had in our communities”.

Issues that are prominent in remote northern communities that require attention, she says.

“A lot of young women don’t know how to use their voice when confronted with these issues,” she adds.

Getting those experiences “on paper has helped me to heal,” and in turn, “will help our communities to heal ”.

Lafferty hopes this book acts as a teaching tool for northern youth.

‘This story is bigger than me’

“It took on a life of its own,” Lafferty says.

When writing the novel, she says she felt “guided, somehow by something”.

The cover of Ndè-Tı-Yat’a. (Photo courtesy of Catherine Lafferty)

Looking back, she says she doesn’t know where the ideas came from, she says “there must have been some magic and involved”.

“This story is bigger than me,” she adds. “I don’t take all the credit”.

Lafferty believes her ancestors spoke through her while writing.

Although she didn’t have a plan when writing, she says her only goal was to create relatable characters rooted in truth.

‘The Madonna of the publishing world’

“I wanted to assert my own identity,” says Lafferty.

Lafferty used her Dene name, Katłįà, to author her second book and will continue to do so in future works.

Lafferty wanted to “pay tribute” to the name her grandmother used to call her and create a new type of “sovereignty” through her fiction.

“I kind of want to be like the Madonna of the publishing world,” she adds.

Lafferty says she hopes to create a trilogy series out of Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a in the next few years.

Coming soon …

The Yellowknife Public Library will be hosting a virtual event where Lafferty will be discussing Ndè-Tı-Yat’a.

The event will take place Nov. 1.

Lafferty is also working on her third novel, This House is Not a Home.

This novel is  in review.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. On her spare time, you can find her at your local coffee shop writing songs, poetry and prose or at the gym out-lifting men. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at or call 867-766-2552 Ext 108