Maria Campbell on the pain and relief of re-releasing Halfbreed with uncut account of RCMP rape

Posted in Articles, Audio, Canada, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Women on 2020-06-25 17:56Z by Steven

Maria Campbell on the pain and relief of re-releasing Halfbreed with uncut account of RCMP rape

As It Happens
CBC Radio

Métis author and playwright Maria Campbell has re-released her seminal 1973 memoir Halfbreed with previously censored pages intact. (Sheena Goodyear/CBC )

Métis author says the published version of her 1973 memoir ‘didn’t tell the complete story’

Nearly five decades after Maria Campbell first published her seminal memoir Halfbreed, she says she finally feels like it’s finished.

That’s because the first version of the book was incomplete. Two integral pages detailing her account of being raped by a Mountie when she was 14 years old had been excised.

Those long-lost pages were discovered last year in an unpublished manuscript, and now the memoir has been re-released intact for the first time.

“I feel like it’s finished now, because it never felt finished for me,” Campbell said. “I always felt like there was a part of it that was missing, and that it didn’t tell the complete story.”

The Métis author, broadcaster and filmmaker joined As It Happens host Carol Off in studio to discuss Halfbreed’s legacy and continued relevance today…

Listen to the story (00:27:32) here. Read the transcript here.

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Posted in Autobiography, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Women on 2019-11-10 03:41Z by Steven


McClelland & Stewart (an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada)
224 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780771024092
EBook ISBN: 9780771024108

Maria Campbell


A new, fully restored edition of the essential Canadian classic.

An unflinchingly honest memoir of her experience as a Métis woman in Canada, Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed depicts the realities that she endured and, above all, overcame. Maria was born in Northern Saskatchewan, her father the grandson of a Scottish businessman and Métis woman—a niece of Gabriel Dumont whose family fought alongside Riel and Dumont in the 1885 Rebellion; her mother the daughter of a Cree woman and French-American man. This extraordinary account, originally published in 1973, bravely explores the poverty, oppression, alcoholism, addiction, and tragedy Maria endured throughout her childhood and into her early adult life, underscored by living in the margins of a country pervaded by hatred, discrimination, and mistrust. Laced with spare moments of love and joy, this is a memoir of family ties and finding an identity in a heritage that is neither wholly Indigenous or Anglo; of strength and resilience; of indominatable spirit.

This edition of Halfbreed includes a new introduction written by Indigenous (Métis) scholar Dr. Kim Anderson detailing the extraordinary work that Maria has been doing since its original publication 46 years ago, and an afterword by the author looking at what has changed, and also what has not, for Indigenous people in Canada today. Restored are the recently discovered missing pages from the original text of this groundbreaking and significant work.

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Bedside Books: How Half-Breed by Maria Campbell connected musician Nick Ferrio to his grandmother

Posted in Arts, Audio, Autobiography, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2018-04-25 23:50Z by Steven

Bedside Books: How Half-Breed by Maria Campbell connected musician Nick Ferrio to his grandmother

CBC Radio
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Musician Nick Ferrio examines Maria Campbell’s autobiography, Half-Breed, and its depiction of race issues in Canada. (Jeff Bierk/Goodread Biography)

Musician Nick Ferrio is based in Peterborough, Ont., but his roots are in Saskatchewan. He recently read Maria Campbell’s memoir Half-Breed and its account of an Indigenous woman’s encounters with racism, and the book resonated with him, thanks to his own Cree ancestry.

Ferrio’s album Soothsayer also mixes several influences to create a personal style and sound.

Mapping internal conflict

“I think every Canadian should read Half-Breed. It’s an incredible story of a mixed woman whose ancestry is part Cree. She explains the racism she faced in Canada. It resonated with me as my paternal grandmother is Cree. Because of the Indian Act, her family was forced to leave the reserve. When she moved to Toronto, she had internal racism. She was ashamed of her identity. She passed as white, so she blended into white culture in Toronto. That’s a dark thing.”..

Listen to the story here. Read the story here.

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Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History ed. by Nicole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny, and Brenda MacDougall (review) [Haggarty]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2014-09-26 15:31Z by Steven

Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History ed. by Nicole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny, and Brenda MacDougall (review) [Haggarty]

The Canadian Historical Review
Volume 95, Number 3, September 2014
pages 463-465
DOI: 10.1353/can.2014.0057

Liam Haggarty
Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

St-Onge, Nicole, Carolyn Podruchny, and Brenda Macdougall (eds.), Maria Campbell (fore.), Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012).

Reflecting on the state of Metis scholarship in Canada, Maria Campbell writes, “It is crucial for us to research and document our own stories and to share and discuss them at a community level. To celebrate them is a part of our decolonizing” (xxv ). That lofty goal is shared by the editors of and contributors to this collection, which both celebrates the work of pioneers in the field, specifically Jacqueline Peterson and Jennifer S.H. Brown, and charts new paths of study. Although firmly rooted in the Western scholarly tradition, it seeks to focus greater attention on family, mobility, and connectedness – themes that will resonate in Metis communities beyond the walls of academia.

In addition to Campbell’s thoughtful foreword, the collection consists of an introduction and fourteen chapters that encompass a wide range of geographies (from the Great Lakes to British Columbia, from Wisconsin to Creole communities in Alaska), timeframes (from the eighteenth century through to the present day), and topics and methodologies (including women’s history, legal history, biography, discourse analysis, and historical geography). By and large, these chapters address ongoing areas of research and familiar questions in the field pertaining to ethnogenesis, cultural distinctiveness, homelands, key events, regional diversity, politicization, and identity. In so doing, they add significantly to the breadth, depth, and texture of Metis historiography and fulfill the editors’ mandate: to trace the contours of Metis peoples and communities, what binds them together, what separates them from others, and what it means to be Metis in specific places, times, and contexts.

Some contributors simultaneously push the boundaries of conventional Metis historiography by adopting innovative approaches that challenge basic assumptions about Metis histories and the lenses through which Metis cultures are often viewed. Historians Nicole St-Onge and Carolyn Podruchny, for example, problematize simplistic interpretations of Metis ethnogenesis by investigating the significance and meaning of “material and emotional ties of kinship and loyalty” (63) to Metis culture and lifeways. Similarly, historical geographer Philip D. Wolfart challenges us to view Metis ethnogenesis and identity aspatially, as concepts bounded not by places visited or land used but by “a system of social obligation and fealty” (121) based on one’s social networks and relationships, while historical and cultural geographer Etienne Rivard asks us to consider the influence that “oral geographies” (144) have had on Metis constructions of identity and senses of place. In the book’s penultimate chapter, Native studies scholar Chris Anderson surveys the challenges associated with translating nuanced interpretations of Metis mobility, communities, and identity into the juridical arena of the Canadian legal system, arguing that although the courts acknowledge the importance of mobility to Metis culture, “older settlement-based understandings” continue to carry greater weight (412–13). Lastly, Native studies scholar Brenda Macdougall explores the concept of ambivalence not only in the formation of Metis identities but also as a trend in Metis historiography that potentially obscures complicated and multifaceted expressions of biculturality, thereby perpetuating simplistic binary understandings of individual and collective identities. By thus situating family, mobility, and connectedness at the centre of Metis culture, these chapters de-centre Euro-centric frameworks of analysis and ways of knowing, and privilege Metis perspectives on the past and present.

These nuanced and innovative analyses also raise important questions that remain underrepresented in Metis historiography. The collective identities informed by ideas of mobility, family, and historical consciousness, for example, are about exclusion as well as inclusion. Who, then, is being left out of Metis communities through ethnogenesis and identity making? To what extent do gender and class relations, as well as other markers of difference, intersect Metisness? How have Metis identities been instrumentalized to exclude as well as include certain individuals and groups? These questions may lie largely beyond the scope of the text but they are nonetheless important to the type of decolonized scholarship Campbell calls for. Understanding the contours of a people requires us to engage both external and internal relations of power.

As a whole, this collection represents a valuable addition to Metis and Aboriginal historiography, and it is a fitting tribute to Peterson, Brown, and other pioneers in the field. By surveying a broad geographic area and covering a wide range of topics…

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Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:43Z by Steven

Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History

University of Oklahoma Press
520 pages
Illustrations: 12 B&W Illus., 8 Maps, 16 Tables
6.125 x 9.25 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780806144870

Edited by:

Nicole St-Onge, Professor of History
University of Ottawa

Carolyn Podruchny, Associate Professor of History
York University, Toronto

Brenda Macdougall, Associate Professor of History and Geography
University of Ottawa

Foreword by: Maria Campbell

Offers new perspectives on Metis identity

What does it mean to be Metis? How do the Metis understand their world, and how do family, community, and location shape their consciousness? Such questions inform this collection of essays on the northwestern North American people of mixed European and Native ancestry who emerged in the seventeenth century as a distinct culture. Volume editors Nicole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny, and Brenda Macdougall go beyond the concern with race and ethnicity that takes center stage in most discussions of Metis culture to offer new ways of thinking about Metis identity.

Geography, mobility, and family have always defined Metis culture and society. The Metis world spanned the better part of a continent, and a major theme of Contours of a People is the Metis conception of geography—not only how Metis people used their environments but how they gave meaning to place and developed connections to multiple landscapes. Their geographic familiarity, physical and social mobility, and maintenance of family ties across time and space appear to have evolved in connection with the fur trade and other commercial endeavors. These efforts, and the cultural practices that emerged from them, have contributed to a sense of community and the nationalist sentiment felt by many Metis today.

Writing about a wide geographic area, the contributors consider issues ranging from Metis rights under Canadian law and how the Library of Congress categorizes Metis scholarship to the role of women in maintaining economic and social networks. The authors’ emphasis on geography and its power in shaping identity will influence and enlighten Canadian and American scholars across a variety of disciplines.

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Reviving Native Culture and Tradition with the Help of Elders – A Study of Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2012-11-23 04:01Z by Steven

Reviving Native Culture and Tradition with the Help of Elders – A Study of Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed

The Criterion: An International Journal in English
Volume III, Issue III (September 2012)
8 pages
ISSN 0976-8165

A. Kamaleswari, Assistant Professor of English
Saiva Bhanu Kshatriya (S. B. K.) College, Aruppukottai, India

Elders should be role models for everyone. Elders should be teachers of the grandchildren and all young people because of their wisdom. Elders should be advisors, law-givers, dispensers of justice. Elders should be knowledgeable in all aspects of Innu Culture. Elders should be teachers for everyone of the past history of Innu people. Elders should be teachers of values to be passed from generation to generation… We place great importance in our elders. Their directions for us will guide our lives. (Statement by the Innu delegation from Sheshatshiu Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, April 27, 1989).

The role of Elders has become increasingly meaningful in First Nation Communities, especially urban communities. Elders are important for their symbolic connection to the past and for their knowledge of traditional ways, teachings, stories and ceremonies. A number of community organizations in Toronto, such as the Native Canadian Centre, Anishnawbe Health of Toronto, Aboriginal Legal Services to Toronto, First Nations House of the University of Toronto and many more have introduced either a resident “Elder”, “a visiting Elder programme, or an Elders’ Advisory committee to provide guidance and information to the organization and its community. Such a strategy provides the community with contact with tradition, traditional beliefs, ceremonies and experiences and a philosophy unique to First Nation Cultures. If the knowledge of tradition is lost, the Native identity will be lost. They are symbols of Aboriginal culture not only in their words and actions but in their very being. This paper is an attempt in analyzing the revival of Native culture and tradition in Maria Campbell’s autobiography Halfbreed.

Intimate familiarity with Native culture is a key to the survival of the Métis. It can help them to take pride in being Métis and to retain their Métis identity. Without it, they are most likely to become nothing and fail in a pluralistic society. Maria Campbell, born in 1940 in Northern Saskatchewan, produced her book. ‘Half-breed’, in 1973. This is a story of her own life up to the time she became a writer. Campbell never dreamed of becoming a writer. It was growing frustration and anger with her powerlessness that spurred her to write about herself. Since then, she has been active in publishing short illustrated histories for children, which include ‘The People of Buffalow’ (1976), Little Badger and the Fire Spirit (1977), Riel’s People (1978) and Achimoona (1985). These books are designed to provide young Native people with Native stories, which help to instill in them a pride in their heritage and a positive self-image…

Read the entire article here.

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Posted in Autobiography, Books, Canada, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Women on 2011-11-02 21:43Z by Steven


University of Nebraska Press
157 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8032-6311-6

Maria Campbell

“I write this for all of you, to tell you what it is like to be a Halfbreed woman in our country. I want to tell you about the joys and sorrows, the oppressing poverty, the frustration and the dreams. . . . I am not bitter. I have passed that stage. I only want to say: this is what it was like, this is what it is still like.”

For Maria Campbell, a Métis (“Halfbreed”) in Canada, the brutal realities of poverty, pain, and degradation intruded early and followed her every step. Her story is a harsh one, but it is told without bitterness or self-pity. It is a story that begins in 1940 in northern Saskatchewan and moves across Canada’s West, where Maria roamed in the rootless existence of day-to-day jobs, drug addiction, and alcoholism. Her path strayed ever near hospital doors and prison walls.

It was Cheechum, her Cree great-grandmother, whose indomitable spirit sustained Maria Campbell through her most desperate times. Cheechum’s stubborn dignity eventually led the author to take pride in her Métis heritage, and Cheechum’s image inspired her in her drive for her own life, dignity; and purpose.

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“Being a Half-breed”: Discourses of Race and Cultural Syncreticity in the Works of Three Metis Women Writers

Posted in Articles, Canada, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2010-09-26 20:29Z by Steven

“Being a Half-breed”: Discourses of Race and Cultural Syncreticity in the Works of Three Metis Women Writers

Canadian Literature
“Native, Individual, State”
Number 144, Spring, 1995
pages 82-96

Jodi Lundgren

In his introduction to All My Relations, Thomas King asserts that “being Native is a matter of race rather than something more transitory such as nationality”: “one is either born an Indian or one is not.” While King adds that there is no “racial denominator” among Natives and that it is important to “resist the temptation of trying to define a Native,” at least until the body of work by authors of Native ancestry reaches some sort of critical mass,” he contends that Indianness is an inborn genetic trait (x-xi). The danger of King’s position is elucidated by ethnohistorian James Clifton:

the uncritical use of Indian, White, and Black, and the associated ethnocentric assumptions about ancient differences in behaviour and potentialities, history, and culture effectively block analytic thinking. These historically derived, culturally patterned, institutionally reinforced convictions include such persistent ideas as being and becoming Indian is a matter largely of biological ancestry, that Indianness is fixed by blood. A related assumption is that the labels White and Indian mark sharply defined categories—culturally defined ways of sorting diverse people into a few classes. A further assumption is that these differences are primordial, inevitable, original, durable and natural. (23)

In other words, when race is considered anything more than an “accident of birth” (King xi), biological determinism soon follows and is inevitably used to justify and perpetuate the disempowerment of oppressed groups. Historically, as Noel Elizabeth Currie asserts, Europeans constructed the different “races’ they encountered in their colonialist and imperialist ventures as “inferior” and “savage’ in order to exploit them economically; contemporary Canadian society, internalized racism is a key element in Native people’s oppression. Beatrice Culleton’s novel April Raintree demonstrates the way in which a light-skinned Metis girl, for whom assimilation into white society appears a possibility, is convinced by her teachers, foster family, and social workers that Native people are responsible for their own disempowerment and that their social positioning is unalterable. Growing up isolated from any Metis community, April Raintree perceives her options as dichotomous: either become the drunken Indian Other or assimilate. In contrast, Maria Campbell’s autobiography Halfbreed illustrates the validating effects of having been raised in a family with a strong sense of Metis identity. Situating the Metis historically, Campbell characterizes their identity as a cultural construct; her emphasis is thus on ethnicity rather than race. In I Am Woman and Sojourner’s Truth, Lee Maracle too focusses not on race but on cultural heritage and political disempowerment as determinant of Metis experience. Hybrid by definition, Metis identity is predicated upon what is “an inescapable and characteristic feature of all post-colonial societies,” namely, cultural syncreticity (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 30). Thus, a positivist emphasis on race such as that put forth by Thomas King is peculiarly problematic for the Metis. That racial stereotyping has had a devastating impact on the Metis and other Native peoples is, however, undeniable. Its operation is thoroughly explored in April Raintree

Read the entire article here.

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