by Deni Ellis Béchard and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Translated by Deni Ellis Béchard and Howard Scott
Idle No More, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, National Survey of Missing or Murdered Aboriginal Women ... How can we co-exist if our common history is shame, injury, and anger? How can we counteract the misunderstandings of the other that lead to contempt? How can we make whites realize the invisible privilege that results from historical domination and the impact of cultural genocide on Indigenous peoples? In an attempt to open a dialogue, Kanape Fontaine and Béchard use personal stories to understand words and behaviors that are racist or that result from racism. In this epistolary exchange, Kanape Fontaine recounts her discovery of the residential schools, her obsession with the Oka Crisis, and life on the reserve in Pessamit, Quebec; Béchard talks about his father's racism, the segregation of African-Americans, and his identity as a Quebecois living in the English-speaking world. By sharing honestly even their most painful memories, these two writers offer a humanist and universal book on the relationship to the other and the respect for difference.
About the Contributors:
Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of Vandal Love (Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book); Of Bonobos and Men (Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism and Grand Prize winner); Cures for Hunger, a memoir about his bank-robber father (selected as one of the best memoirs of 2012 by Amazon.ca); and Into the Sun (Midwest Book Award for literary fiction and selected by Radio Canada as one of 2017's Incontournables and one of the most important books of the year to be read by Canada's political leaders). Béchard has reported from India, Cuba, Rwanda, Colombia, Iraq, the Congo, and Afghanistan. He has been a finalist for a Canadian National Magazine Award and has been featured in Best Canadian Essays 2017, and his photojournalism has been exhibited in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
Born in 1991, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine is Innu, originally from Pessamit on Quebec's North Shore. Poet-performer, actor, visual artist, and activist for Indigenous and environmental rights, she lives in Montreal. Her first collection of poems, Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes (translated by Howard Scott; Mawenzi House, 2015), recounts her initial identity questioning and was hailed by critics, earning her the 2013 Prix littéraire des Écrivains francophones d'Amérique. A finalist at the 2015 Prix Émile-Nelligan, her second collection Assi Manifesto (Mawenzi House, 2016) offers a song to our planet Earth, suffocating as a result of the exploitation of natural resources, of tar sands in particular. Her third collection of poetry, Blueberries and Apricots (Mawenzi House, 2018) carries "the speech of the Indigenous woman, coming back to life to reverse history."
Howard Scott is a Montreal literary translator who works with fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His translations include works by Madeleine Gagnon, science-fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg, and Canada's Poet Laureate, Michel Pleau. Scott received the Governor General's Literary Award for his translation of Louky Bersianik's The Euguelion. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, which he co-translated with Phyllis Aronoff, won the Quebec Writers' Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Phyllis Aronoff, was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. Howard Scott is a past president of the Literary Translators' Association of Canada.