Contemporary French Civilization

“Minor” literature of an itinerant culture: Goulet, Campbell, and the Canadian Métis

Contemporary French Civilization (2020), 45, (2), 143–164.

Abstract

The Canadian Métis population historically was marginalized and then oppressed, yet retains cultural vibrancy. The movement and adaptation necessary to survive became defining characteristics of their artistic expression, and the Métis who once spoke French and autochthonous languages now speak mostly English, albeit embroidered with traces of previous languages. Examining Métis literature reveals how language migrates, adapts, and transforms as a living phenomenon, in a Deleuzo-Guattarien process of continual movement, plateau-reaching, and regrouping while seeking new favorable environments (which means the ability to work, which increasingly means speaking English in this context). This historical literary unfolding is traced here in works by Louis Goulet, Maria Campbell, Marilyn Dumont, and Rita Bouvier, to demonstrate the development of a minor literature as defined by Deleuze and Guattari, and of a literature that emanates from a culture of inclusivity and itinérance as described by François Paré, who focuses on the French-Canadian diaspora beyond Quebec. Métis literature is resistant by nature, representative of a population that is not in the majority. The writings considered here share fundamental characteristics of numerous other minority literary expressions of survival and resistance. In addition to Deleuze and Guattari and Paré, helpful critical perspectives include those of Pamela Sing, Emma LaRocque, and Gloria Anzaldúa.

Historiquement, la population métisse canadienne a été marginalisée puis opprimée, et cependant a su conserver un dynamisme culturel. Le mouvement et l’adaptation nécessaires pour survivre sont devenus des caractéristiques déterminantes de l’expression artistique, et les Métis qui autrefois parlaient français et des langues autochtones parlent aujourd’hui principalement anglais, même si souvent brodé de traces de langues antérieures. Un examen de la littérature métisse révèle comment une langue migre, s’adapte et se transforme en phénomène vivant, dans un processus Deleuzo-Guattarien de mouvement continu, d’atteinte de plateau, et de regroupement, tout en cherchant de nouveaux environnements favorables (c’est-à-dire, favorable aux gens qui cherchent du travail, donc dans ce contexte qui parlent anglais). Ce déroulement historique et littéraire est tracé ici dans les écrits de Louis Goulet, Maria Campbell, Marilyn Dumont et Rita Bouvier, pour démontrer le développement d’une littérature mineure telle que définie par Deleuze et Guattari, et d’une littérature qui émane d’une culture d’inclusivité et d’itinérance telle que décrite par François Paré, qui se concentre sur la diaspora canadienne-française au-delà du Québec. La littérature métisse est résistante par nature, représentative d’une population qui n’est pas majoritaire. Les écrits considérés ici partagent des caractéristiques fondamentales de nombreuses autres expressions littéraires minoritaires de survie et de résistance. Outre Deleuze et Guattari et Paré, les perspectives critiques utiles incluent celles de Pamela Sing, Emma LaRocque, et Gloria Anzaldúa.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Works cited

Alberta Department of Native Affairs, Edmonton. “The Metis Betterment Act: History and Current Status. Background Paper no. 6.” ERIC Institute of Education Services. 1 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands: The New Mestiza, La Frontera. 4th edition, edited by Norma Cantú and Aida Hurtado, Aunt Lute Books, 2012. Google Scholar

Bakhtin, M.M. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. U of Texas P, 1986. Google Scholar

Bothwell, Robert. The Penguin History of Canada. Penguin Canada, 2006. Google Scholar

Bouvier, Rita. Blueberry Clouds. Thistledown Press, 1999. Google Scholar

Braz, Albert. The False Traitor: Louis Riel in Canadian Culture. U of Toronto P, 2003. Google Scholar

Brown, Jennifer S.H. Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country. U of British Columbia P, 1980. Google Scholar

Campbell, Maria. Halfbreed. Saturday Review Press, 1973. Google Scholar

Dechêne, Louise. Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth-Century Montreal, translated by Liana Vardi, McGill-Queen’s UP, 1992. Google Scholar

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. Kafka: Pour une littérature mineure. Éditions de minuit, 1975. Google Scholar

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. Mille plateaux: Capitalisme et schizophrénie 2. Éditions de minuit, 1980. Google Scholar

Dumont, Marilyn. “The Pemmican Eaters.” Indigenous Poetics in Canada, edited by Neal McLeod, Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2014, pp. 97–101. Google Scholar

Eccles, W.J. The Canadian Frontier, 1534–1760. 1969. U of New Mexico P, 1983. Google Scholar

Gaudry, Adam. “Métis.” Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada, 11 Sept. 2019. Google Scholar

Goulet, Louis. L’Espace de Louis Goulet, edited by Guillaume Charette, Editions Bois-Brûlés, 1976. Google Scholar

Havard, Gilles. Empires et métissages: Indiens et français dans le pays d’en haut. Septentrion, 2003. Google Scholar

Innis, Harold A. The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History. 1930. U of Toronto P, 1999. Google Scholar

Jannetta, Armando E. Ethnopoetics of the Minority Voice: An Introduction to the Politics of Dialogism and Difference in Métis Literature. Wissner-Verlag, 2001. Google Scholar

LaRocque, Emma. “Contemporary Metis Literature: Resistance, Roots, Innovation.” The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, edited by Cynthia Sugars, Oxford UP, 2016, pp. 129–149. Google Scholar

Létourneau, Henri. Henri Létourneau Raconte. 2nd edition. Editions Bois-Brûlés, 1980. Google Scholar

Native Languages of the Americas. “Chippewa (Ojibway, Anishinaabe, Ojibwa).” 11 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Paré, François. Le fantasme d’Escanaba. Éditions Nota bene, 2007. Google Scholar

Payne, Michael. “Fur Trade Historiography: Past Conditions, Present Circumstances and a Hint of Future Prospects.” From Rupert’s Land to Canada, edited by Theodore Binnema, Gerhard J. Ens, and R.C. MacLeod, U of Alberta P, 2001, pp. 1–22. Google Scholar

Perreault, Jeanne, and Sylvia Vance, editors. Writing the Circle: Native Women of Western Canada. NeWest Publishers, 1993. Google Scholar

Sing, Pamela V. “Cuisine et identité culturelle: Discours et représentations chez des écrivains franco-canadiens et métis d’ascendance française contemporains.” Cahiers franco-canadiens de l’Ouest, vol. 20, no. 1–2, 2008, pp. 33–54. Google Scholar

Sing, Pamela V. “L’Expérience du minoritaire francophone: Littérature, théories et nouvelle représentation de la différence.” Cahiers franco-canadiens de l’Ouest, vol. 17, no. 1–2, 2005, pp. 3–15. Google Scholar

Sing, Pamela V. “Intersections of Memory, Ancestral Language, and Imagination; or; the Textual Production of Michif Voices As Cultural Weaponry.” Studies in Canadian Literature, vol. 31, no. 1, 2006, pp. 95–115. Google Scholar

Sing, Pamela V. “J’vous djis enne cho’, lâ: Translating Oral Michif French into Written English.” Quebec Studies, vol. 50, 2010, pp. 57–80. Google Scholar

Sing, Pamela V. “Littérature et communauté: Vitalité et reconnaissance du Far Ouest francophone.” Nouvelles perspectives en sciences sociales: Revue internationale de systémique complexe et d’études relationelles, vol. 8, no. 2, 2013, pp. 119–144. Google Scholar

Sing, Pamela V. “Production ‘littéraire’ franco-métisse: Parlers ancestraux et avatars.” Francophonies d’Amérique, vol. 15, 2003, pp. 119–140. Google Scholar

Van Kirk, Sylvia. “Many Tender Ties”: Women in Fur Trade Society, 1670–1870. Watson & Dwyer, 1980. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Rehill, Annie