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Dr Elaine Coburn: Emma LaRocque, Intro to a Cree-Speaking Metis Feminist

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The Emma LaRocque Reader: Introduction to a Cree-Speaking Metis Feminist

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“At home I grew up Cree with Wehsehkehcha; in schools my senses and intellect were overrun with Settlers and Savages and neither knew anything about Wehsehkehcha, rendering me an ‘alien’ in my own home/land” – Emma LaRocque.

This talk is based on the draft introduction to an edited manuscript, tentatively titled On Being Human: Selected Prose Writings of Emma LaRocque from 1975-2020. Emma LaRocque is a Metis feminist, born in 1949 in Lac La Biche, in what is now known as Western Canada. After growing up speaking Cree, in the one-room kerosene-lit log cabin built by her father, she fought her parents to go to public school, age twelve, where she encountered English…and Cowboys and Indians. Living the contradictions of colonialism, Larocque writes, especially the contradictions between her own experiences and the “Imaginary Indian” of schoolbooks and Hollywood films, led her to become a scholar to make sense of the dissonance. The author of Defeathering the Indian (1975) which deconstructs stereotypes of Native peoples in the public school curriculum, and When the Other is Me (2010), which explores Indigenous literature in Canada, LaRocque’s other personal and scholarly writings over nearly a half-century are brought together in this edited collection for the first time. The argument is that LaRocque's work offers critical new understandings of colonialism, indigeneity, Métisness, feminism -- and ultimately, new insights what it means to be human in the dehumanizing context of still-colonial Canada

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