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In-Between – Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Cultures


Edited By Stefan L. Brandt

In the past few years, the concept of «liminality» has become a kind of pet theme within the discipline of Cultural Studies, lending itself to phenomena of transgression and systemic demarcation. This anthology employs theories of liminality to discuss Canada’s geographic and symbolic boundaries, taking its point of departure from the observation that «Canada» itself, as a cultural, political, and geographic entity, encapsulates elements of the «liminal.» The essays comprised in this volume deal with fragmented and contradictory practices in Canada, real and imagined borders, as well as contact zones, thresholds, and transitions in Anglo-Canadian and French-Canadian texts, discussing topics such as the U.S./Canadian border, migration, French-English relations, and encounters between First Nations and settlers.

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Documenting Oral History and Lessons in Truth Telling in Nadia McLaren’s Muffins for Granny and Tim Wolochatiuk’s We Were Children (Sabrina Völz)


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Sabrina Völz

Documenting Oral History and Lessons in Truth Telling in Nadia McLaren’s Muffins for Granny and Tim Wolochatiuk’s We Were Children

Abstract: While fictional and non-fictional writing on Indian Residential Schools (IRS) has become an important part of the academic landscape well beyond the confines of Canada, documentary filmmaking on IRS has not yet been met with the same level of scholarly attention. This essay on Nadia McLaren’s Muffins for Granny: Stories from Survivors of the Canadian Residential School System and Tim Wolochatiuk’s We Were Children seeks to reduce this divide. As a powerful form of truth telling, these documentaries testify to the power of oral history on par with indigenous storytelling practices and oral traditions, but they take highly different approaches to the sharing of the testimony of residential school survivors and their traumatic memories. McLaren artfully fuses the participatory mode of documentary filmmaking with the balance and harmony of an Aboriginal worldview. Wolochatiuk takes a more controversial approach, stretching the borders between fact and fiction with his highly affective brand of performative documentary filmmaking.


Residential schools represent one of the most horrifying chapters in recent Canadian history. All in all, 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were taken from their families and placed in mostly off-reserve schools which promoted conversion to Christianity, paternalism, Euro-Canadian values, and coerced assimilation. The last residential school closed in 1996; by then, thousands of former...

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