O Canada, land of the maple leaf and the United States’ neighbor in the North. Some see this nation in term of its stereotypes: everyone loves ice hockey, lives in the wilderness, and drink nothing but beer. The truth of the matter, however, is that Canada is a country with a rich culture that is presented in their everyday lives and media, especially literature.
University of British Columbia students from Kathryn Grafton’s Canadian Studies class wanted to ask the question “Who is participating in online discussions of Canadian literature, and why?” To accomplish this they edited 29 articles, six of which were new additions such as the Indigenous literatures in Canada and Dead Girls articles.
One of the articles they tackled was Joseph Boyden’s Wenjack, a novella about the short life of Ojibwe First Nations boy Chanie Wenjack. Created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the young boy’s death, the novella tells of Wenjack’s escape from his cruel, abusive residential school teachers — only for the lad to die of hunger and exposure while trying to make the long journey back home. The book was not without controversy, however, as it attracted criticism due to controversies surrounding Boyden’s genealogy and tribal affiliations. The students also expanded the article for the book Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Some students did not limit themselves to novels; some chose to focus on theater and music literature. Four students chose to write an article about the Carol Bolt and Governor General’s Award winning play Pig Girl, which was based upon the murders of Indigenous women by Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert Pickton. The play’s author, Colleen Murphy, wanted to draw attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Another article was the 2016 electronic album We Are the Halluci Nation by the popular music group A Tribe Called Red, earning them a Juno Award, one of the most prestigious music awards in Canada.
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