Reflecting on Canadian Literary Culture

A Blog by Janine Fleming for ENGL 470A

Hello ENGL 470A!

Welcome to “Reflections on Canadian Literary Culture”. Although a Canadian from birth, I have not always been aware of the vast implications of our colonial history. It was only 10 years ago, during my first year of university, when I learned about Canadian residential schools and the atrocities perpetrated against an entire generation of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. I was shocked and ashamed to find out that it was only in 1998 that the last residential school was closed. I simply could not fathom a Canada where this was possible.

Through attending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s events and conference, I was introduced to the power of story-telling. During the TRC, brave individuals told personal stories of unspeakable suffering and unfathomable resilience. These stories were documented and recorded—to be shared and passed on as our national legacy—a reminder of our darkened past and a beacon of hope for a better future. However, hope is only possible if we engage with these stories through respectful and continued dialogue.

Photo Credit: Wyld, Adrian. 2015. The Canadian Press. Web. 16 May 2016.

The dialogue that emerges when we share our stories seems an appropriate place to begin this blog and this course. To reflect on the culture of Canadian literature, it is important to think critically about the stories we tell and how we tell them; to consider what these stories say about us, our values, our worldview, and our identity.

Photo Credit: Allison, Olivia. 2011. Web. 16 May 2016.

Through this blog, I hope to explore the nuances and implications of my own stories and the way I tell them. Stories are a unique medium in that they gain power and significance the more we share them. And as we share them, I believe our stories change as our perspectives are broadened and our ideas challenged. So on that note, I welcome your input, questions, and constructive advice as I work through my own literary and oral traditions in concert with the course readings and lessons.

If you are unfamiliar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, here is a link to a video published by the Winnipeg Free Press that may help you to understand the TRC and the importance of story-telling.

Works Cited

“Stories told, healing awaits: Release of the Truth and Reconciliation report another step in journey”. Winnipeg Free Press. Dan Lett Dir. 2015. Web. 11 May, 2016.

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Reports, 2015. Web. 11 May, 2016.

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