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.
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.
Elsa- Inuit Woman
Jimmy- Elsa's illegitamite mixed-blood son who is conceived in a rape by an American GI.
This novel is a completely unrealistic tale. Firstly, it legitimizes rape and violence.
Further, it completely devalues the Inuit culture by presenting it as
undesireable and lowly.
Acoose, Janice.Iskekwak. Toronto: Women's Press, 1997.
Laurence, Margarette. "The Loons", The Norton Introduction to Literature. ED. Carl E Bain. New York: WW Norton & Co. 1991
Roy, Gabrielle. Windflower Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc, 1991