19 November 2012

Half-Breed by Maria Campbell

Thoughts and Reflections

This book came to my attention through my classmates. It is the story of Maria Campbell, who is a Métis person growing up in latter half of the twentieth century. The story reaches back before her time and discusses the foundations of Canada's policies towards Aboriginal people. The story follows these policies up to Maria's lifetime and tells how they affected her life, her family, and her people. It is a story of anger, shame, personal identity and culture.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and feel that it is a book that every Canadian should read, particularly white Canadians. The book shed light on Aboriginal issues in a way that no academic paper could, it personalised the coldness of Government policies and made me realise how they affected real people. The novel further made me understand the plight of Aboriginal people today and why this plight exists and why it can't be fixed over night and not by white government policy makers.

Maria Campbell tells the story of how her people were broken time and time again. She talks of how throughout the history of the relationship between Aboriginal people and Canadian settlers and government there were moments when things could have gone differently. She talks of how her people, half-Aboriginal and half Euro-Canadian settler, had no place, not fitting into the government policy or culture of one or the other. She talks about her anger, her loses, how she coped, how she escaped, her fight, her rebellion, and her healing. It is a blunt story littered with shame, guilt, anger, and mistakes, but also one of healing and hope.

I don't want to say to much about the book, other than that everyone should read it. It is short and simply written, but it is profound, fully of insight and experience.

About the Author
Maria Campbell was born in 1940 near Athlone, Alberta. She is a Métis author and Aboriginal rights activist, whose first book Half-Breed, her autobiography was written in 1973. She has since gone on to write a number of other books, plays, and radio interviews. She has received a number of awards for her works, including the Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

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