Beyond Literary Landscapes—Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis Memoir

Beyond Literary Landscapes—Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis Memoir

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.

Who

This column serves as an introduction to the works of Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis authors, a reminder of some of the authors’ classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

Some well-known authors include, Alicia Elliot, a “Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River,” Helen Knott, a “Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, and Euro descent [author and poet] from Prophet River First Nations,” and Jessie Thistle, a Métis-Cree author and scholar.  Other popular authors include Dr.  Maria Campbell, a Métis author, scholar, and current Elder-in-Residence at Athabasca University, Billy-Ray Belcourt, “a writer and academic from the Driftpile Cree Nation,” Terese Marie Mailhot, an author “from Seabird Island Band,” and Tanya Tagaq, an Inuk author, poet, scholar, and throat singer from Ikaluktutiak, Nunavut.

Other well-known memoirs are also available from authors, such as Richard Wagamese.

What

Some well-known works include In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience by Helen Knott, Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot, From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle, and Halfbreed by Dr.  Maria Campbell.

In addition, although not considered strictly memoir, Tagaq’s Split Tooth blends memoir, prose, and poetry, while Belcourt’s A History of My Brief Body, is a collection of personal essays.

Where

Many of these works are set throughout Indigenous lands in what is now known as North America.

When

These works take place during the late 20-century.

Why

Readers who would like to learn more about Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis culture, history, and identity, as well as the historical and continued effects of settler colonialism, may be interested in these works.

How

AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis memoir are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in INST 203: Indigenous Studies I, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “introduces the principle legal and statutory documents, such as treaties, the Indian Act, the British North America Act of 1867, and the Constitution Act of 1982, that form the basis of Canadian state policies towards Indigenous [P]eoples.”

In addition, students may also consider INST 370: The Métis, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “traces the historical development of Canada’s Metis from the period of the fur trade to the present.”

For those interested in learning or furthering language skills, INST 111: Introductory Cree I, a junior-level, three-credit course, “introduces students to the Plains Cree (Y dialect) grammar and vocabulary, and provides the opportunity to practise speaking Cree and working in the language laboratory.”  (INST 112: Introductory Cree II is also available for those with more advanced language skills.)

For more information on undergraduate and graduate level Indigenous Studies courses, check out the full listing on the Nukskahtowin homepage.  Happy reading!

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