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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Lansdowne

Listening to the voices of indigenous women

"In general Canada puts indigenous writers, especially indigenous women, last."

Haunting words by one of my favourite indigenous writers: Lee Maracle (Stó:lō Nation).

Maracle's novel "Daughters are Forever" was one of the first indigenous novels I read that really packed a gut punch. I read it and it changed the course of my thinking on indigenous history, storytelling, and ways in which we are so connected to our past, even if there is no real possibility of understanding what our cultures were without the impacts of colonization. Her fiction described to me the lived realities of indigenous existence in ways that were so tangible I used it to make philosophical arguments for how traditional euro-Christian history (by that I mean euro-Western but I don't think you can separate Western Civilization from Christianity so I side with Tink Tinker in calling a spade a spade) needed to be unsettled. Fiction could also be a valid historical source if it told the truth even if that truth was factual by the academy's standards.

Maracle's opening statements for the Margaret Lawrence Lecture (shared via Nahlah Ayed's Ideas podcast on the CBC) about the putting of indigenous women's voices and writing last haunts me. Is the fact that we've erased the lineage of strong indigenous women's literary traditions part of why we continue to fail in taking action on the CALLS TO JUSTICE of the National Inquiry on Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls? Canada doesn't notice what's missing when we were never seen in the first place?

On the eve of the day after Red Dress Day (October 4), I invite you to center the words of two brilliant indigenous writers: Lee Maracle, and journalist Tanya Talaga (Ojibwe).

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