Oops. A bit late to wrap-up… you put it off one day and all of a sudden it’s a week later. So, anyways.
I participated in #Diverseathon. This was a challenge to read as much own voices literature from diverse authors. As you may know, I decided to pick graphic novels written by Indigenous authors born in Canada.
I’m not sure I learned too much. Maybe because there are several Indigenous groups that live very closely… or, because so much of my degree was focused on the history and culture of these groups. It was pretty much as expected.
What seemed unfortunate is that the titles each had a heavy-handed focus on reclaiming the “old ways”. I take this to be because they were written for the group that they were written about, and because most of them were supported with grants from the Government of Canada… so of course would have a particular agenda. It’s not a bad position, just that 1. it is incredibly disheartening that a group needs to have this message repeated over-and-over in their own literature and 2. the repetition gets a little tiring.
I placed holds on a number of titles, but these are the ones that arrived in time, which I read during the readathon.
☆☆☆/5 Ak Skim Aan (Hunter) / Marshall Leigh George was probably the most unique comic in the pile. It was a very short story of an Indigenous Father in a dystopian future who can’t provide for his family until…he discovers the “old ways”. It was essentially posed photographs with a textured overlay to give it a science fiction feel. I personally was surprised with how much I enjoyed this short story. Plus, it was a bilingual comic in Blackfoot with English subtitles which is such a unique thing to read.
☆☆/5 A Blanket of Butterflies / Richard van Camp again is a very short story. This one was nominated for an Eisner award in 2016. It wasn’t “that” awesome unfortunately. I think the nomination made me have higher expectations. This was about a Japanese man who came to Canada to reclaim his family sword that was being held hostage by an out-of-control Indigenous man until he rediscovers the “old ways”. I didn’t find this one as meaningful. There was an emotional finale, but the connection between characters was awkward. It was just much much too short.
There was an interesting attempt at connecting the Denne culture with Japanese culture that was hinted at… I would love to see that explored more in a future comic.
☆☆☆☆/5 Moonshot: The Indigenous Collection this is a beautiful and professional production of short stories by Indigenous authors edited by Hope Nicholson. This title is worth picking up if only for the first short graphic novel/brilliant work of art “Vision Quest: Echo / David Mack” about a deaf Cherokee girl and the love of her father. Visually stunning, and beautifully moving. YES!! This story!! If I could buy pages of this to hang on my walls I would…
I wasn’t terribly interested in the rest of the compilation. But, the first title…
☆☆☆/5 The Outside Circle / Patti Laboucane-Benson is a story of a young Indigenous man surround by gangs, drugs and violence is sent to prison after fighting with his mother’s boyfriend and eventually finding his way to healing through an Indigenous rehabilitation program.
Again, a heavy-handed approach to rediscovering the “old ways” — but I think actually done to the best effect. In the end, this was thought-provoking, but also incredibly depressing. At the end one man finds reclamation but is just one man in a seeming never-ending cycle of destruction.
There is so much hurt in these cultures that it can’t help but being reflected in their literature. It’s a bit overwhelming to read over-and-over, but it is a reflection of something significant, complex, and seemingly insurmountable. Compared to the experience of just reading about it, how much more overwhelming to live with?!