A conversation with Lee Maracle

As part of the New Legends of Vancouver Author Readings, author Lee Maracle will be reading from her latest book, My Conversations with Canadians, at the Vancouver Public Library (VPL)’s Central Branch on Apr. 22.

Written in the Notes application on her iPhone, this collection of prose essays started as a pipe dream for Maracle that eventually became a reality. Broken up into thirteen different conversations, My Conversations with Canadians dives head first into the questions Canadians have been asking First Nations people for years – questions Maracle says have followed her throughout her whole career. When starting out, Maracle said she was told that “Indian books don’t get published because Indian people can’t read.”

Including things like what pronouns to use and how Canadians can help, her book covers a wide variety of topics including colonialism, left-wing politics and the Inquisition Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. She believes that Canadians just don’t know First Nations people, and she has taken it upon herself to better educate the masses. Maracle says she often finds herself repeating, ‘Nothing about us, without us.’

Residential schools: a cultural genocide

According to Maracle, until Canadians begin to prioritize issues in their own backyard versus those overseas, the misunderstandings between Canadian and First Nations people will continue to grow. The thirteenth conversation of the book is titled ‘Reconciliation and Residential Schools as an Assimilation Program’.

“You cannot reconcile something that is continually happening,” says Maracle.

She appreciates that the Truth & Reconciliation Commission describes residential schools as a cultural genocide, but admonishes the fact that the Canadian Government still refers to it as an assimilation project. She feels if the Canadian Government really wants to affect change and harbor a healthy relationship with the First Nations, they must ask them what they need versus telling them what they are getting.

Curriculum addendum

Lee Maracle, author of My
Conversation with Canadians.

As a parent and grandparent, Maracle worries about future generations being uneducated in their own culture. She also has some thoughts on how Canadian parents can prepare their children for dealing with racism in and out of school.

“Kids emulate us. We need to ask ourselves as parents, what kind of human being do I want this child to be? Kindness is the way to raise a child. Be thoughtful if you want them to be thoughtful. Be good if you want them to be good,” she says.

Maracle hopes to continue the conversation and jokes that her next book might be titled Conversations with First Nations, since Indigenous people have just as many questions about Canadians, and continue to educate both Canadians and First Nations people.

“I missed the classroom experience as an Indigenous student. Make our stories part of curriculum. We need to be able to study our own work. We need that to advance as a country,” she adds.

Maracle hopes her book will inspire other Indigenous writers and wishes to continue supporting new and upcoming writers in the Indigenous community.

“I hope that I manage to support emerging writers and leave a legacy behind that I was the lead goose in a flight of a lot of writers,” she says.

For more information on the VPL Author Readings please visit www.vpl.bibliocommons.com/events

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