Rupert's Land

Meredith Quartermain. NeWest Press (North American dist. LPG/Manda Group), trade paper $20.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1927063361
Constrained by social expectations, Cora Wagoner dreams of escape. While Cora entertains fantasies of escaping to a romanticized life amongst the ‘Indians,' Hunter George lives the reality of indigenous people in Canada during the Great Depression, oppressed by paternalistic Indian Agents bent on enforcing vindictively interventionist laws to force native assimilation into white society. Hunter himself is stolen from his family and sent to an Indian residential school. After a friend's death by neglect, he escapes in a desperate attempt to rejoin his people. A chance encounter sees Hunter joined by Cora, both desperately seeking freedom beyond society's borders. Quartermain, whose poetry collection Vancouver Walking won a B.C. Book Award, focuses on two groups traditionally oppressed by Canada's patriarchal society; her stylistic choices underline the protagonists' alienation. As limited as Cora's options are, she enjoys a glorious freedom compared to Hunter's lot; his experiences reflect the reality that some residential schools of the early 20th century killed roughly half of their unfortunate inmates. Those who survived were scarred by separation from their family, language and culture, many by the horrifying abuses they suffered. Canadians are – very belatedly – starting to come to grips with the reprehensible treatment of First Nations peoples in their history and its legacy of pain in the present; Quartermain's novel contributes to that process. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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