Print this chapterPrint this chapter

Symbolism and Expression Additional Reading

Literature

Identity

Perhaps the most common issue that Aboriginal writers explore is that of identity.  Some write about how to maintain traditions and culture in the modern world.  Others write about searching for self-identity after suffering a family or community breakdown.

Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe illustrates this in “I Lost My Talk”

I Lost my Talk
I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubencadie school.
You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my word.
Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.
So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk

So i can teach you about me.

Richard Wagamese is an award-winning author of Anishinabe ancestry.  In his autobiographical writings, he describes his early life of alcoholism and years spent on the streets and in prison.

Nipissing writer Wayne Keon's poem "Heritage" squishes the names of First Nations together into a tidy box.  All distinctions are lost.  The names are broken to suit the shape of the box and ordered alphabetically to suit the order of the English language.