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On the Other Side(s) of 150

Untold Stories and Critical Approaches to History, Literature, and Identity in Canada

Edited by Linda M. Morra & Sarah Henzi
Subjects Indigenous Studies, Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Cultural Studies
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Hardcover : 9781771125130, 374 pages, April 2021

Excerpt

Excerpt: Pages 1-2

The “Canada 150” celebrations staged across the nation in 2017 rolled out a discursive red carpet for the British North America Act, which established Confederation in 1867. As reported in The Globe and Mail and other national papers, the federal government poured millions of dollars into honouring its own anniversary: “Canada Day,” author Charlotte Gray noted, “especially, will be a moment to reflect a little longer than usual on our country’s achievements . .. Break out the sparklers, people of Canada. This is your year. ” […] In 2017, however, even newspapers that reported on the Canada 150 commemorative festivities and the official narrative with which it is associated were, at times, a little less enthusiastic, even ironic, when not downright critical—especially in relation to the nature and price tag of some of these celebratory displays, most notably the $200,000 giant yellow rubber duck that was brought to Toronto’s waterfront. 1 These reports further observed that, if the population of the country had almost doubled, its composition had radically changed in its nature and its self-consciousness—indeed, so much so, that acts of commemoration involved re-evaluating, rather than celebrating official narratives and monuments and, where possible, effecting material transformations.

By the following year, those same critiques informed political decisions, such as the removal of the John A. MacDonald statue from the steps of City Hall in Victoria, British Columbia, because of his involvement in the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada (Woo). Across the country, in Regina and Montreal as other specific instances, statues of John A. Mac- Donald were repeatedly vandalized—twice in the former instance, five times in Montreal at the time of this volume’s publication—and claimed by activists who characterized themselves as “anti-colonial” and “anti-racist” (Peritz, “Montreal’s”). As Gray observed, “thousands of messages of pro- test and discontent were tweeted with hashtags such as #Resistance150 and #UNsettleCanada150,” as Indigenous protests at last found a more “sympathetic audience within the non-Indigenous population. ” Even so, many in this country still celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation without the kind of self-consciousness, detachment, or understanding of how many patriotic narratives exclude, repress, or even oppress others who live in this country—who lived in this country before it was recognized by some as “Canada. ” And, as of this past year, during a global pandemic and the vocal anti-racism demonstrations that are an extension of Black Lives Matter, it is becoming increasingly understandable why Canada Day has evolved into Cancel Canada Day protests, and why Idle No More organizers have asserted that “[w]e will not celebrate stolen Indigenous land and stolen Indigenous lives. ” At this historic juncture when many—the general public, scholars, universities—are recognizing the ways that Indigenous peoples have been damaged by colonization and the ways that their histories and stories have been suppressed, there is genuine trepidation about the way forward.

Commemoration, as the events of Canada 150 and recent incarnations of Canada Day show, is not a disinterested practice of remembering the past, but rather a powerful evocation of how identity and citizenship are called into being by their affiliated rituals—rituals that facilitate how participants may “feel authentic about autobiographical narratives of their purportedly shared past” (H. Saito 630). 2 What we remember, how we choose to remember and represent particular historical events and figures, who is given ontological weight (or not) in the acts of such remembering, and for whom these memories are being constituted, these are all determined and shaped by the needs of the present moment and irrevocably connected to frameworks of power. In this way, commemorative narratives reify common national tropes and images, (re)constitute identities, and (re)inscribe beliefs that are sometimes assumed to be irrefutable (H. Saito 630)3; they both “model” and “mold” citizenship, as Ekaterina V. Haskins would argue, and are therefore invoked by political, cultural, and economic agents—and not only to “inspire civic consensus” (11). Social cohesion is thus an endeavour often marked by inequitable power relations; yet, it is promoted as a general good and perceived as a natural, rather than naturalized, process. Even if what is com- memorated is ultimately a fiction produced by some (and variable) degrees of consensus of the constituent members of a nation, what is selected as a representational fiction has a bearing on fact—on the material reality of those who must live with and abide by that fiction. 4 Even so, consensus is often challenged, and commemorative processes are often localized, if not divisive, because all actors—institutional, governmental, corporate, popular—have competing stakes in the process of enshrining a national identity and in the politics of its memory or history. Challenges to official forms of commemoration in Canada, with “stakes [that] involve possession and control of the past,” as Kammen observes, may yet endeavour to include “oppositional histories” that become engaged in “question[ing] existing arrangements of power” (186; Strong-Boag 66).

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“The book has been titled On the Other Side(s) of 150— to suggest the multiple facets of and different perspectives that have proliferated around commemoration, its narratives, symbols, and figures, and then beyond it: what happens once a commemorative moment has passed? Like a Cubist painting, this modality offers a critical strategy by which also to approach the volume as dismantling, reassembling, and re-enacting existing commemorative tropes; as offering multiple, conditional, and contingent viewpoints that unfold over time; and as generating a broader (although far from being comprehensive) range of counter-memorial performances. The chapters in this volume are thus provisional, interconnected, and adaptive: they offer critical assemblages by which to approach commemorative narratives or showcase lacunae therein; by which to return to and intervene in ongoing readings of the past from the present moment; and by which not necessarily to resolve, but rather to understand the troubled and troubling narratives of the present moment. The chapters in this volume propose that these preoccupations are not a means of turning away from present concerns, but rather a means of grappling with how the past informs or is shaped to inform them, and how such concerns are defined by immediate social contexts and networks. ”

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: On the Other Side(s) of 150 – Linda M. Morra & Sarah Henzi

Section One: Contemporary Counter Memories & Narratives

1. “Recuperating Indigenous Narratives: Making Legible the Documenting of Injustices – Deanna Reder

2. ‘I write this for all of you’: Recovering the Unpublished RCMP ‘Incident’ in Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed (1973) – Deanna Reder and Alix Shield

3. Telling Harm: Time, Redress, and Canadian Literature – Benjamin Authers

4. Modified Seeds and Morphemes: Going from Farm to Page – Laura Moss

Section Two: Unbecoming Narratives

5. Landscape, Citizenship, and Belonging – Shani Mootoo

6. Untold Bodies: Failing Gender in Canada’s Past and Future – Kit Dobson

7. Thresholds of Sustainability: Cassils and Emma Donoghue’s Counter Narratives – Libe García Zarranz

8. Unsustainable: Lyric Intervention in Vivek Shraya’s even this page is white – Erin Wunker

9. Untold Stories of Slavery: Performing Pregnancy and Racial Futurity in Beatrice Chancy – Kailin Wright

10. Authors and Archives: The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Promulgation of Canadian Literary Papers – Erin Ramlo

Section Three: Memories From Below and Beyond the Border

11. The Vietnam Resisters Who Shaped Canada’s Ceramic Heritage – Mary Ann Steggles

12. Who Can Tell? Histories and Counter-Histories of Photography in Canada – Martha Langford

13. Who Gets Remembered? Gender, Art, & Canadian Identity in the Early 20th Century – Brian Foss and Jacques Des Rochers

14. German Internment Camps in the Maritimes: Another Untold Story in P. S. Duffy’s The Cartographer of No Man’s Land – Jennifer Andrews

Section Four: Rhetorical Renegotiations

15. The Story Behind the Story, or the Untold Story?: John Coulter’s Perceptions of a Canadian Tragic Hero, Louis Riel – Krisztina Kodó

16. Supra Legem Interruptio: Losing Louis Riel (and His Interruptive Return) – Gregory Betts

17. Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825-1868) and Louis Riel (1844-1885): Minority Nationalists, Extreme Moderates – Margery Fee

18. Before Secret Path: Residential School Memoirs from the 1970s – Linda Warley

Conclusion: Still Here – Kim Anderson and Rene Meshake

Contributors

Kim Anderson (Cree-Métis; University of Guelph, ON)

Jennifer Andrews (University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB)

Benjamin Authers (Australian National University)

Gregory Betts (Brock University, St. Catherines, ON

Jacques Des Rochers (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, QC)

Kit Dobson (Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB)

Margery Fee (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC)

Brian Foss (Carleton University, Ottawa, ON)

Libe García Zarranz (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway)

Sarah Henzi (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC)

Krisztina Kodó (Kodolányi University of Applied Sciences, Hungary)

Martha Langford (Concordia University, Montreal, QC)

Rene Meshake (Anishnaabe, Guelph, ON)

Shani Mootoo (independent writer, Toronto, ON)

Linda M. Morra (Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, QC)

Laura Moss (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC)

Erin Ramlo (McMaster University, Hamilton, ON)

Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis; Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC)

Alix Shield (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC)

Mary Ann Steggles (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB)

Kailin Wright (St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS)

Linda Warley (University of Waterloo, ON)

Erin Wunker (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Legacies of Canada 150

Description

On the Other Side(s) of 150 explores the different literary, historical and cultural legacies of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations. It asks vital questions about the ways that histories and stories have been suppressed and invites consideration about what happens once a commemorative moment has passed.

Like a Cubist painting, this modality offers a critical strategy by which also to approach the volume as dismantling, reassembling, and re-enacting existing commemorative tropes; as offering multiple, conditional, and contingent viewpoints that unfold over time; and as generating a broader (although far from being comprehensive) range of counter-memorial performances.

The chapters in this volume are thus provisional, interconnected, and adaptive: they offer critical assemblages by which to approach commemorative narratives or showcase lacunae therein; by which to return to and intervene in ongoing readings of the past from the present moment; and by which not necessarily to resolve, but rather to understand the troubled and troubling narratives of the present moment. Contributors propose that these preoccupations are not a means of turning away from present concerns, but rather a means of grappling with how the past informs or is shaped to inform them; and how such concerns are defined by immediate social contexts and networks.