Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada's Past


250 pages
ISBN 0-385-66075-8
DDC C813'.010806





Reviewed by Beverly Rasporich

Beverly Rasporich is a professor in the Faculty of Communication and
Culture at the University of Calgary. She is the author of Dance of the
Sexes: Art and Gender in the Fiction of Alice Munro and Magic Off Main:
The Art of Esther Warkov.


This is an extraordinary book, one of the best that I have read by those
of First Nations and Inuit ancestry. Its contributors read like a
who’s who of Native literature: Tantoo Cardinal, Tomson Highway, Basil
Johnston, Thomas King, Brian Maracle, Lee Maracle, Jovette Marchessault,
Rachel Qitsualik, and Drew Hayden Taylor. These are experienced,
creative writers who have turned their pens to a highly imaginative and
long overdue task: retelling Canadian history from an Aboriginal

Each author was asked to choose a defining moment in Aboriginal
history. These moments then became launching points for amazing,
original storytelling. Tomson Highway chose 1960, the year that
Aboriginal Canadians were granted the vote; Lee Maracle chose the
occupation of False Creek by Khatsahlanogh; Jovette Marchessault focuses
on the period of World War II; and Brian Maracle tells about the moment
of creation. The story that held me the most spellbound was Rachel
Qitsualik’s Skraeling. This tale about the Arctic “before it was
named” takes place sometime between 800 and 1200 AD, when a warmer
world drew the dogsledding ancestors of the Inuit (Thule) culture out of
Alaska to occupy the habitations of the Tunit, who did not survive. Her
story is a truly visionary exploration of what a meeting of these two
different peoples along the eastern edge of Baffin Island might have
been like.

Our Story has been very thoughtfully prepared. Adrienne Clarkson has
written a foreword, and each story is introduced by a compelling
black-and-white image and a contributor’s note/introduction to the
choice of historical event. The book is sophisticated in concept,
design, and execution, yet accessible for the general reader.


Cardinal, Tantoo, et al., “Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada's Past,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15081.