White Writer's Appropriation & Contribution to Stereotypes

By Sera Urciuoli

Readers of Canadian literature are bombarded with stereotypes and misrepresentations of indigenous women in works by white writers. The images are often unrealistic and perpetuate derogatory ideas that cultivate racism and prejudice.

Janice Acoose, in her book Iskekwak outlines the dangers that exist when white writers choose to write about native characters:

It is dangerous for non-Indigenous writers to move into other cultures, particularly the Native Canadian culture which theirs has oppressed and exploited, because without careful thought, they are likely to perpetuate stereotypicaland one dimensional views of that culture. Acoose 71

It is important ot expose these white writers and their literature in order to bring into consciousness those images that are damaging to native women. Here is a look at some of the works of literature that treat the Native Woman in a derogatory way and the effect it may have on the reader.

The Loons -Margarette Laurence

Piquette Tonerre- Young Aboriginal Girl

Vanessa MacLeod- Narrator: She is a young christian middle-class girl whose voice mirrors the racist/patriarchal society in which she live.

These contructed negative images effect the reader in their vision of Aboriginal women. Piquette has no redeeming qualities and thiswould also have an effect on the esteem of the Female Aboriginal reader.

Windflower- Gabrielle Roy

Elsa- Inuit Woman

Jimmy- Elsa's illegitamite mixed-blood son who is conceived in a rape by an American GI.