Magazine article Herizons

Women of the First Nations

Magazine article Herizons

Women of the First Nations

Article excerpt

WOMEN OF THE FIRST NATIONS

As a Métis woman, activist and academic, I found Women of the First Nations inspiring and thought provoking. This volume brings together papers given at the National Symposium on Aboriginal Women of Canada in October 1989. Although the conference was held almost a decade ago, the contributors to this volume -- both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women -- anticipated many of the important issues currently on the agendas of national and local Aboriginal organizations, as well as federal and provincial governments concerning Aboriginal peoples. This makes the volume particularly salient for present day discussions of Aboriginal women in Canada.

While the book's contribution as an academic teaching tool and catalyst for discussion is obvious, I felt that the theoretical arguments and analyses did not add much that was new to feminist discourse. The value in this book is clearly more as an historical text. Interestingly, however, it also embodies a creative tension between the writings of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal contributors -- between those writing about the `other' and those writing about themselves. This, I believe, is where the value does lie in this book as a feminist text. While Chuchryk and Miller point toward this tension in their introduction, one of genre, subject position and discourse, they wisely leave to the reader the task of interpreting what this tension means within the context of feminist and Aboriginal discourses.

Within the pages of Women of First Nations, the reader is confronted by the Aboriginal contributors' candid discussion of the brutal history of colonization and its impact upon Aboriginal women. In powerful words the authors speak out against the "severe and irreversible" effects of colonization, pointing to the devastation of traditional family structures and the disastrous effects of the residential school system. …

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