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My Conversations with Canadians

(Essais Series #4)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  44 reviews
On her first book tour at the age of 26, Lee Maracle was asked a question from the audience, one she couldn’t possibly answer at that moment. But she has been thinking about it ever since. As time has passed, she has been asked countless similar questions, all of them too big to answer, but not too large to contemplate. These questions, which touch upon subjects such as ci ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Book Thug
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Correy Baldwin
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I had some trouble with this book, possibly because I was looking forward to it so much. It is presented as a series of conversations between Maracle and her Canadian readers, and yet these are not conversations; Maracle is frustrated, and this is her way of venting.

Her frustration is understandable: as a writer, she has confronted an array of troubling questions from her Canadian audiences over the years, from the well-intentioned to the outright racist. It is these questions that she is tackli
...more
Geoff
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's important to listen. Especially when it's uncomfortable, and this was a really uncomfortable book to listen to because Lee Maracle has some tough, searing, and hard to refute things to say about colonization and the annoying tendency of White people like me to talk over an down to indigenous people like her. Her stories and arguments around the arts world didn't hold me as much, but she made good points about intellectual property and colonization, and made a really good argument about refu ...more
Tori
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
"Canada views itself as the nicest colonizer in the world."

Maracle does not pull any punches in this series of conversations. And although they're not, and can't be, conversations in the traditional sense, Maracle uses that to her advantage. White Canadians historically have spoken for, and over Indigenous people. Maracle says, enough. You're going to listen to us now.

They are not nice or particularly comfortable conversations. But they are necessary ones.
Friederike Knabe
Lee Maracle is one of these thinkers and writers, who you want to meet and talk to from time to time at least. She is wise, highly knowledgeable and always thought provoking. The collection of essays, "My conversations with Canadians" is the next best experience to meeting Lee in person. They are perceptive, witty, sometimes ironic and provocative and always worth your reflection and self-questioning. Give yourself time to read these conversations one at a time, and then more than once.
Scott Neigh

A short, hard-hitting book by famous Sto:lo author Lee Maracle. In her many years as a novelist, sometime-performance poet, and all-around storyteller, she has spent a lot of time speaking with Canadians both in front of an audience and one-on-one. The pieces in this book start from the questions, ideas, and conversations she has most often had to reply to over those years. As such, it covers a lot of ground. The answers are blunt and clear and filled with hard truths that settlers need to hear.
...more
Jane Mulkewich
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. When I finished it, my first reaction was that I wanted to read it again. I first started reading Lee Maracle's fiction over two decades ago, and this is her first book addressing directly those of us who are settlers, or non-indigenous Canadians, and it is straight talk that may be uncomfortable for some, and difficult to read. She talks about the need for us white settlers to give up our seat on the Knower's Chair (where we get to decide what is true knowledge), and she talk ...more
Sunni C. | vanreads
I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. I find nonfiction in first person very easy to follow along as it feels like someone is talking to you, especially when the nonfiction is a more personal piece of work. My Conversations With Canadians by Lee Maracle is a very thought provoking book. I don't think I'm well versed enough in different Indigenous issues to attest to how accurate each of the statements are, but I think it brings up interesting perspectives that challenge conventional thought. As ...more
Kip Wood
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The last nine pages of the book are about the importance of song, dance, and movement. It moves the reader in a way that requires a re-read. From those pages:

“It took us three decades to recover from the cultural bans and begin to dance in the longhouse again. Another three decades passed before we taped our music, and still I anticipate another three decades before we dance our way through life in a way our ancestors did.”
Kristen
Imperative reading for Canadians. Maracle doesn't hold back in her correct critique of the colonial country of Canada. Tackling major topics like cultural appropriations, intersectionality, colonialism, decolonization and reconciliation, she outlines in a series of essays how Indigenous communities are still facing trauma and concerns that aren't being addressed...especially in the shadow of "Canada 150".
Marni
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This author speaks very directly to the issues with reconciliation. I had many 'aha' moments like when she told how settler appropriation of Indigenous stories is theft. It finally made sense. I also now agree that the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada was genocide. She's angry, but writes clearly and eloquently.

Anita Dolman
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, insightful, full of well-told stories that deeply root the true histories of Indigenous Peoples in North America. This book undid some of the Eurocentric skew I had learned in history and anthropology texts of yore. Highly recommend to all Canadians, in particular.
Brenda D
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I want to give Maracle's new book an "excellent" review as I learned a great deal, and I am tempted, however the book is inconsistent and in all honesty merited 3 stars for "I liked it". Her wisdom as a Sto:lo shines through and this is definitely worth the read (5 stars) however these moments were unfortunately intermingled with a mixed bag of beliefs and unsupported statements (presented as fact). Perhaps some of these statements are based in reality, it is difficult to say as there are no sou ...more
Carling
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was very lucky to get a chance to meet Lee Maracle and hear her speak. As a orator, Maracle specializes in telling stories. Her voice is deep and her laugh infectious. Her writing is so similar I felt as though I was sitting across from her, listening as she told her stories. My Conversations with Canadians is a collection of prose essays written in conversational style directly addressing frequently asked questions by well-meaning white Canadians. Maracle doesn’t soften any blows with her cri ...more
Presschick
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Passive aggressive writing.
If your mother is a nag. If you were in a locked room with your mother for hours. If you had lost your ability to speak, to rebut, to share, to reason... that’s what this book felt like. This is not a conversation, we are not REALLY invited to converse. We listen and abject, acquiesce, guilt.
Frankly, Lee, I would love to converse with you. I just don’t quite believe you can. Converse.
Your blood and culture runs through my veins and history. But you so clearly exclude
...more
Dino Snider
Lee Maracle's "My Conversations with Canadians" skillfully writes the reader into a voluntary Patty Hearst situation where she first gains the reader's confidence, then traps them in her rhetoric. She quickly establishes her norms by applying double standards between indigenous and non-indigenous. For example, it's wrong for a non-indigenous person to use the phrase, 'our Indians' because that indicates possession. Shortly thereafter, Maracle applies that same possessive to non-indigenous people ...more
Ben Truong
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My Conversations with Canadians is an anthology of personal essays by Lee Maracle. The theme of this anthology is a collection of personal essays about conversations that Lee Maracle had throughout her life as a Canadian, a First Nations leader, a woman, mother, and grandmother. It centers mainly on her thoughts of Indigenous matters and colonization. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Toronto Book Awards.

For the most part, I really like most of these contributions. My Conversations with Cana
...more
marissa  sammy
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who aren't Manifest Destiny-loving racists
This is one of those books that takes a while to get through, not because of it being thick or confusing, but because the subjects that Maracle takes on are fraught with hundreds of years of genocide and its lasting repercussions.

Maracle also offers a point of view and analysis independent of anything taught at 'traditional' post-secondary institutions, which is a gift since the Indigenous truth of Canada -- the construct of white settlers, post-contact -- is rarely given a platform. Maracle is
...more
Markéta Barochová
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
"We do not have forgiveness as a recurring theme in our culture. If you hurt someone, own it, look at yourself, track where it came from, learn from it and make it right, continue to learn from it, continue to deepen your understanding, and grow from it. If you are the transgressed, look at how it made you feel, inventory how you behave, and transform yourself - do not let the transgressions of others damage your authentic self. If you were hurt, look at the impact and effect of the hurt on you ...more
Sirah
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The long story short is that this book is going on my list of "art" books because it moves me. Maracle's words bring me to the brilliant highs of culture and power and hope as well as the lows of confusion, helplessness and loss. Although the message calling for awareness and understanding is not new, the avenue of semi-poetic prose stands out as one of the more remarkable pieces on human rights that I've experienced so far. Maracle isn't pushy, but she is determined and passionate. Her assertat ...more
Brian Decker
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book really challenged me to not only learn about the way Canada’s history and settler colonialism has shaped my own life, but the fundamental differences in the very way our protocols, laws, heuristics and traditions shape how we see the world. I am grateful for the way Lee Maracle’s writing, which frankly is a little all over the place in this book, actually served as a window into different perspectives based on her many conversations with Canadians like myself over the years. I had perh ...more
Debbie
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Well, this was a difficult book to read. I could not help feeling really bad about myself, and not undeservedly so. As a second generation Canadian, even though I haven't directly participated in the colonization of North American indigenous people, I am guilty of unwittingly accepting my place in Canada with little thought to the true owners of the land.
Everything about this makes me sad.
While Maracle offers little hope and few concrete solutions, her last chapter offers a passage worthy of pr
...more
Kelsey Hlavaty (readingwithkelsey)
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
Lee Maracle is a brilliant writer. When I finished this book, I wanted to turn it over and start rereading it all over again; I am looking forward to doing so that I may highlight all my favourite parts and quotes. It is both a conversation to Canadians as well as one AT Canadians. I think Maracle did a brilliant job being both engaging and informative, using the second person narration in a tone both light-hearted but never stops to soften the meaning behind her words. Her frustration shines an ...more
Cindy Mac Jac
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I read this book right after reading a very American focused book CASTE The origins of Our Discontents. By Isabel Wilkerson.

This book should be mandatory reading for all Canadians!
It book shines a floodlight on the plight both past and present on the First Nation individuals and communities.


At present there is A dispute over Mi’kmaq fishing rights in southwestern Nova Scotia escalated this past week into violence, destruction and eventually an angry mob attack on Indigenous-used fishing pound
...more
Vontel
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Vignettes of her interactions with non-indigenous people, particularly framed through interactions at readings of her work; and her emotions, motivations, and conversations, related to her observations about the history of relationships, and indigenous perspectives since the coming of Europeans. Parts of it are challenging reading. Provides some excellent examples of what informs her perspectives. I have not read any of her other published works, nor known about readings in my local area.

Finishe
...more
Yara Kodershah
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To read and reflect on the contents of this book is to recognize the generosity of Lee Maracle's "conversations" (or, if you prefer to jump ahead of the irony, "confrontations"). There are important truths contained in this text on the subject of art, government, science, academia, feminism, and justice that need to take root in the hearts and minds of all Canadians in order for meaningful action to follow. "Canada and Canadians would do well to learn from us," she writes. I wholeheartedly recom ...more
Cathryn Wellner
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Canada's record with the first people to live on this broad land is abysmal. Its current history leaves much to be desired. So it is no wonder a writer/artist of the stature of Lee Maracle has no patience for the questions and comments of those of us who benefit from colonial history. Her sharp responses to questions she hears repeatedly are essential reading for those who want to be allies but are still clueless about the impact of that history.
Taylor
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Maracle's book is crucial for anyone wanting to hear an Indigenous perspective on critical Canadian issues. She is candid in her writing and is unafraid to engage in a difficult dialogue. As a white Canadian, her book challenged many facets of my own worldview in a very thought-provoking way. Her words will make you think, and will keep you thinking long after the book is closed.
Joan
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book kicked my ass. It’s challenging to read, and it’s uncomfortable to read, process and accept. Im glad I read it as I find my way in coming to know Indigenous ways of thinking and my role as colonizer.
Erika Bennett
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really poignant but beautiful in the description of the Sto:lo culture and history. It was so interesting to see her perspective on the colonization of Canada and dispelling of myths about the origins of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Kathleen Scott
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned so very much from this book. It is a must read.
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Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, she grew up in the neighbouring city of North Vancouver and attended Simon Fraser University. She was one of the first Aboriginal people to be published in the early 1970s.

Maracle is one of the most prolific aboriginal authors in Canada and a recognized authority on issues pertaining to aboriginal people and aboriginal literature. She is an award-winning poet,
...more

Other books in the series

Essais Series (9 books)
  • The Nothing That Is: Essays on Art, Literature and Being
  • Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being
  • Disquieting: Essays on Silence
  • Refuse: Canlit in Ruins
  • Dear Current Occupant
  • Blank: Interviews and Essays
  • Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life
  • Her Paraphernalia: On Motherlines, Sex/Blood/Loss and Selfies

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