"Diversity is Our Strength"? Memory, Trauma and Social Critique in Contemporary Canadian Literature by Indigenous Women

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This thesis aims to demonstrate how Indigenous female authors represent the traumas suffered from Canadian government policies between the early days of the Confederation of Canada and 1996. That year signifies the closure of the last residential school, which had for over a century been in practice to prevent children from growing up surrounded by Indigenous peoples. The residential school program was part of the Indian Act, the principal statute through which Indigenous peoples are governed in Canada, but which used to have the objective to assimilate Indigenous peoples into the dominant settler society. Although the residential school program is the best-known example of how the Canadian government tried to achieve this, it was not the only policy. Forced adoptions carried out between the 1960s and 1980s have had a lasting impact on both the parents and the children. Both these federal policies have caused traumas that continue to affect Indigenous peoples, even if they have not experienced them first-hand. This thesis seeks to explore the literary tools that Indigenous women use to portray the traumas and how they criticize a wealthy, democratic country that proudly presents itself as a multicultural-loving, inclusive society where diversity is the unifying factor between all Canadians.
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