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Monday January 8, 2018 in Books
Kuei, My Friend is an engaging book of letters: a literary and political encounter between Innu poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Québécois-American novelist Deni Ellis Béchard. Choosing the epistolary form, they decided to engage together in a frank conversation about racism and reconciliation.
Intentionally positioned within the contexts of the Idle No More movement, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the National Inquiry into Missing or Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls, the letters in Kuei, My Friend pose questions in a reciprocal manner: how can we coexist if our common history involves collective and personal episodes of shame, injury, and anger? How can we counteract misunderstandings of the Other, which so often lead to contempt and rejection? How can we educate non-Indigenous communities about the impact of cultural genocide on the First Peoples and the invisible privileges resulting from historical modes of domination?
In an attempt to open a sincere and productive dialogue, Kanapé Fontaine and Ellis Béchard use their personal stories to understand words and behaviours that are racist or that result from racism. With the affection and intimacy of a friend writing to a friend, Natasha recounts to her addressee her discovery of the residential schools, her obsession with the Oka Crisis of 1990, and her life on the Pessamit reserve. Reciprocating, Deni talks about his father’s racism, the segregation of African Americans and civil rights, and his identity as a Québécois living in the Englishspeaking world.
By sharing honestly even their most painful memories, these two writers offer an accessible, humanist book on the social bridgebuilding and respect for difference. Kuei, My Friend is accompanied by a chronology of events, a glossary of relevant terms in the Innu language, and, most importantly, a detailed teacher’s guide that includes topics of discussion, questions, and suggested reflections for examination in a classroom setting.
ISBN 13: 9781772011951 | ISBN 10:
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 176 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Frontlist | Non-Fiction
About the ContributorsDeni Ellis Béchard
Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of four books, and his articles, fiction, and photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around world.Natasha Kanapé Fontaine
Born in 1991, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine is Innu, originally from Pessamit on Quebec’s North Shore. Poet-performer, actor, visual artist, and activist for Indigenous and environmental rights, she lives in Montreal. She is the author of three collections of poems and Kuei, My Friend: A Conversation on Race and Reconciliation, an epistolary exchange with celebrated Québécois-American author Deni Ellis Béchard.Deni Ellis Béchard
Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of four books, and his articles, fiction, and photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around world.Howard Scott
Howard Scott is a Montreal literary translator who works with fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His translations include works by Madeleine Gagnon, science-fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg, and Canada’s Poet Laureate, Michel Pleau. Scott received the Governor General’s Literary Award for his translation of Louky Bersianik’s The Euguelion. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, which he co-translated with Phyllis Aronoff, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Phyllis Aronoff, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Howard Scott is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.