Erin Akerman and Kristina Fagan Bidwell

Métis Relationships in Cherie Dimaline's Empire of Wild

Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild intervenes in debates about Métis identity by depicting the relationships of her community, the descendants of the Drummond Island Métis, with Red River. Beyond assertions of historical ties, Dimaline engages in an imaginative and speculative vision of how such connections can be forgotten, remembered, and reimagined. Specifically, her rogarou offers a culturally grounded way of thinking about Métis identity, territory, and mobility. While her version of the creature is deeply rooted in the Drummond Island descendants’ land and history, particularly in its resonance with the local story of Le loup de Lafontaine (1955), its movements and relationships also range widely onto the Plains. Drawing on the theories of Mishuana Goeman and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, we will argue that Dimaline “(re)maps” (Goeman 2013) complex networks of local and national Indigenous relationships that resist colonial appropriation and thereby imagine a better Métis future of “co-resistance” (Simpson 2017). 

Erin Akerman is a descendant of the Drummond Island Métis. She recently completed her doctoral studies in English literature at Western University. Her work examines intersections between Indigenous, Canadian, and nineteenth-century British literatures.

Kristina Fagan Bidwell is a member of NunatuKavut. She is a Professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan where she teaches and researches Indigenous literatures. Her current work focuses on the question of how stories act relationally between communities, both between different Indigenous communities and between Indigenous and settler communities.

Gwen Rose

More Than Just Speculative: Genre, Forms, and Indigenous Resurgence in Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thieves

This paper examines the juxtaposition of science fiction tropes and the resurgent practices of the Indigenous characters in Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves. Leanne Simpson’s theory of Indigenous resurgence is represented by the traditional practices, languages, and stories that these characters utilize both to survive a dystopian future, and to combat the technological practices of their settler-colonialist would-be oppressors. The generic tropes of Science Fiction in The Marrow Thieves represent settler-colonialism; the resurgent Indigenous practices that eventually defeat these forces reflect the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples both within the novel and within Turtle Island. Dimaline’s novel both imagines a dystopian future where the horrific past of residential schools returns, and speaks to the traditional knowledge and practices, resurgence, that refute and overturn the flawed hegemony of settler-colonialism.

Gwen Rose (she/they) is a Master’s candidate at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Ann Martin. Their research focuses include Modernism, Indigenous Literatures, and History, utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to literary criticism.

Kirsten Bussière

Another Apocalypse: Survivance in Indigenous Science Fictions

By depicting global catastrophes that ultimately result in the collapse of food distribution, healthcare, and globalized travel, contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction often exposes the future’s grim determinism and reinforces pre-set structures of oppression. On the contrary, many texts by Indigenous authors, like Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow and Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, reverse the polarity of those discussions by framing the apocalypse as a politically mobilizing and agency-creating mechanism. While settler Canadian communities struggle to survive, Indigenous communities, who have already experienced many apocalyptic events since the colonization of Canada began, are better suited to survive and thrive in a changing world. As a result, my paper argues that Rice’s and Dimaline’s novels, instead, provide a scenario in which the collapse of one community essentially creates opportunities for other communities, Indigenous peoples’ in particular, to flourish through the utopian possibility of beginning again.

Kirsten Bussière is a doctoral candidate and part-time professor in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa. Her current research, which is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, examines representations of space, time, and memory in contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction.

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