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(Dis)Integrating Canadian Nationalism:
Bearing Witness to Trauma in Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach & Kerri Sakamoto's The Electrical Field

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Amber Dean
Simon Fraser University

Sometimes we live the wars between nations as personal events.
Sometimes a private drama appears like a war or natural catastrophe.
Sometimes the two wars, the personal and the national, coincide.
Hèléne Cixous

"If individual and cultural recovery [from trauma] is to be possible," writes Susan Brison, "survivors' testimonies must be heard" (27). Traumatic events have devastating effects on lives, and when inflicted with the sanctioning of nation-states, such events can have a lasting impact on large groups of people. Most often, the targets of trauma perpetrated with the explicit permission or by the direct action of nations are members of cultural groups already oppressed by racism. In Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach, for example, each of the characters is trying on some level to cope with the ongoing effects of the colonization and near-destruction of the First Nations peoples in Canada. Similarly, the characters in Kerri Sakamoto's The Electrical Field grapple with the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. These traumatic events are a part of the history of the Canadian nation, were sanctioned by the Canadian state, and yet are routinely made invisible, erased in an attempt to (re)present a mythical Canada in which such traumas are insignificant, justifiable, or outright denied.

Rape is another form of trauma, one that is inflicted most often upon women. It is broadly considered to be a personal (private) trauma, despite the fact that it is condoned - if not formally, then informally - under patriarchy. Although many nation states now have laws prohibiting rape, low rates of prosecution and relatively lenient punishment of rapists are an indication of the refusal of nations to acknowledge the full implications of such acts. Feminists have attempted to shift violence against women from the realm of private trauma to the public sphere, pursuing acknowledgement of men's violence against women as a systematic form of oppression. Both Monkey Beach and The Electrical Field include representations of acts of violence against women, and the ways in which these personal (private) traumas intersect and overlap with the national (public) traumas of colonization and internment show us much about the relationship between patriarchal and national myth-making.

Remnants of Colonization: National (Public) Trauma in Monkey Beach

The people of Canada's First Nations have been hard-pressed to convince the Canadian public of the lasting impact of the trauma of colonization. One of the greatest myths perpetuated by the Canadian state is a picture of Canada as historically having been a vast, empty space awaiting discovery by early explorers. In order to gloss over the horrific and violent displacement of First Nations peoples from the lands they were the first to inhabit, and from the social and cultural structures they had developed, the myth-making apparatus had to create a lasting image of a land with 'nothing' on it. And in order to equate First Nations peoples and cultures with this ‘nothingness,' it became necessary to represent them as 'backwards' cultures that might pose a threat to the 'rightness' of the culture of the colonizers. As is pointed out so vividly in Beatrice Culleton Mosioner's novel, In Search of April Raintree, history books used in school classrooms across the country paint a picture of "how the Indians scalped, tortured, and massacred brave white explorers and missionaries" (53). When she is told that the books are beyond reproach because they contain 'history,' Cheryl Raintree insists: "your history books don't say how the white people destroyed the Indian way of life. That's all you white people can do is teach a bunch of lies to cover your own tracks!" (54). In a scene strikingly similar, Lisamarie in Monkey Beach is angered at being forced to read from a book that says Indians had "killed and eaten people as religious sacrifices." "But it's all lies!" she protests (68-9). Both Cheryl and Lisa are punished by their schools--significant players in the myth-making apparatus--or their refusal to accept the 'unquestionable truths' of history.

The widespread racism of dominant (white) culture in Canada is perhaps the most pervasive remnant of the colonization of First Nations peoples. As explained by Stamm & Stamm, Native North Americans inherit a "legacy filled with cultural and generational trauma brought on by centuries of natural disasters, racism, oppression, warfare, and catastrophic disease" (49-50). None of the characters in Monkey Beach has entirely escaped the impact of this legacy. Mick and Trudy, who were forced into residential schools as children, are the characters most impacted by the trauma of colonization, at least among those still living. As Trudy's daughter explains to Lisamarie: "You're really lucky that your dad was too young to go to rez school... Just Mick and my mom went, and it fucked them up" (254). Trudy's way of coping with the trauma of residential school becomes alcoholic oblivion, while Mick rebels against white hegemony by joining the American Indian Movement (AIM) and attempting to fight back. The trauma of the residential schools has left the two in limbo, no longer sure of where they belong, which is not surprising since the purpose of the schools was to teach them to integrate fully into white society and scorn their families, culture, and language. Thus Mick and Trudy, never fully able to resolve this trauma, fluctuate back and forth between Kitamaat, a small native village in northern British Columbia, and white society.

But those who remain in Kitamaat are not impervious to racism either. Lisa recalls becoming a summer attraction for tourists, who would sometimes take photographs of the Native children. First Nations people have an important symbolic role in the mythical construction of 'Canada,' so much so that in Northern communities--their 'natural habitat'--it is not surprising that tourists pursuing an 'authentic' Canadian experience would want to seek out, observe, and photograph residents of Kitamaat. As Himani Bannerji explains, First Nations peoples' "presence as the absent signifiers within Canadian national politics works at all times as a bedrock of its national definitional project" (92). When Lisa wants to know what happened to the old village near Kemano, her mother tells her "most of the people died," but refuses to go into more detail about the racist underpinnings of the colonialism which destroyed the village and its people years earlier (100). And when Lisa is still quite young she starts to realize that the Haisla language is getting lost, replaced by the English that everyone in the village now speaks.

There are several personal (private) traumas in Monkey Beach, including the deaths of Mick & Ma-ma-oo, the rape of Lisa, and the loss of Jimmy, Lisa's brother. These private traumas all overlap on some level with the large-scale, public trauma of injustice and racism towards First Nations people – in fact, the public trauma seems to shape the way and the extent to which the private traumas impact those that survive them. To take another example from Mosionier's In Search of April Raintree, April makes the following observation while trying to make some sense out of her experience of being raped: "What a way to get into the papers, as a victim. Another victim of being native. No matter how hard I tried, I would always be forced into the silly petty things that concerned native life" (167). Although there is nothing to directly connect the experience of rape with being native, April feels that her native-ness is at the core of her victimization.

Thus the cultural trauma of oppression can be seen not only as increasing the impact of private traumas, but also as making one more susceptible to them. It is essential, however, that in the process of identifying the intersection of the large-scale trauma of oppression and the private traumas of native people we do not scapegoat the culture as the cause of the private traumas. As Stamm & Stamm elaborate: "The prevalence of problems is so high [in First Nations communities] it is easy to assume that these problems arise from the culture itself." As an alternative, they suggest locating the problem in an understanding that "interfamilial trauma histories from centuries of cultural trauma create high risk situations," placing the burden of responsibility on the legacy of racism as opposed to the culture (66).

Personal (Private) Trauma in Monkey Beach

There are many deaths in Monkey Beach. The ones that affect Lisamarie the most are those of Mick & Ma-ma-oo, her grandmother. Lisa has premonitions, in the form of a little man with red hair, before Mick's death and Ma-ma-oo's first heart attack. Once she discovers that these visits are warnings, Lisa starts to feel tremendous guilt when she is unable to do anything to save her loved ones, especially Ma-ma-oo (294). Her cultural gift, passed to her from her mother's side of the family, thus greatly alters Lisa's experience of death. After she banishes the little man, turning her back on her gift, Lisa gets a glimpse of what it is like to experience trauma without a warning: "This is, I thought, what it's like for everybody else. Hello, it's bad news. Bam" (283). Yet the warnings, and particularly the feelings of guilt Lisa develops around not being able to save anyone, also make it difficult for Lisa to fully grieve or mourn her losses, instilling in her instead a sense of anger at her helplessness. When Ma-ma-oo gives her a picture of Mick over a year after his death, Lisamarie insists she's "not mourning any more," to which Ma-ma-oo insightfully responds: "No, you're still mad" (290).

Lisa's parents are portrayed throughout the novel as being calm, rational, and relatively emotionless--so much so that Lisa is surprised by stories she hears that indicate her parents were at one time wilder and more impetuous. Having witnessed the impact of the residential schools on Mick and Trudy, perhaps Al and Gladys prefer to distance themselves from anything that might remind them of their cultural heritage and their oppression, whether it be Mick's activism, Trudy's emotional outbursts, or Gladys' own ability to see ghosts. Of all the adults, they seem the most detached from anything associated with First Nations cultures, and Lisa learns about the history of her people primarily from Ma-ma-oo and Mick. Al and Gladys seem to want to avoid ‘rocking the boat,' and show dismay whenever Lisa speaks up for herself or her people.

While it might be tempting to judge Al and Gladys for betraying on their people, we must also recognize that their desire to remain relatively invisible is a survival technique, and that those who don't employ this technique--Mick, Mick's wife, even Ma-ma-oo--die. As Susan Brison argues, perhaps the most significant goal of the survivor of trauma should be simply "to endure," and Al and Gladys do just that (31). Their survival is problematic, however, in the context of the novel; Gladys and Al are the sort of oppressed people that a white readership is comfortable with. They fail to pose the kind of threat to white privilege and sense of entitlement that Mick does. On one hand we can read Robinson's decision to have them survive, while Mick dies, as an attempt to reflect reality. On the other hand, a politically counter-hegemonic reading of the text frusterated by her decision to leave a white audience with those characters whose survival does little to challenge our comfort.

Lisa has inherited Mick's sense of injustice, however, and is filled with a growing rage as she begins to learn what it means to be native and female in a country made for men and white people. After she is nearly assaulted by a group of young white men in Terrace, Lisa is shocked to find that she is the one who receives scolding from others, for defending herself by talking back. When her aunt Trudy tells her that "no one would have cared" if she'd been raped or killed, we know implicitly that she is actually saying no one in authority would have cared, meaning no one white and male – no policemen, no judges. Trudy describes what happened in the residential schools to try to force Lisa to understand why there would not have been any justice for her if those boys had attacked her: "there were tons of priests in the residential schools that... 'helped' themselves to little kids just like you. You look at me and tell me how many of them got away scot-free" (255). Thus the trauma of the residential schools, a (now) public trauma suffered communally as well as individually, becomes equated with the trauma of rape, normally considered a private trauma.

Lisa is targeted for attack by the white boys because her attackers view her as "a feisty little squaw," less than white, less than male, and therefore less than human (250). Bannerji argues that "through the Indian Act ... racist and sexist constructions of ‘the Indian woman' became both possible and practicable" (68). When such constructions are encoded in national law, can we really be surprised when they are taken up in this way and with such a sense of entitlement by this group of young white men, the very people the laws were made to benefit? Thus this scene from Monkey Beach clearly illustrates how intimately connected some national (public) and personal (private) traumas can be.

Although Lisa escapes attack from the white boys, she is shortly after raped by a native boy who had been one of her closest friends. The act is a sharp reminder that women are subject to patriarchal rule even in communities oppressed by dominant (white) culture. Lisa does not tell anyone about the rape. Significantly, she also banishes the little spirit after the rape, asking him "if you couldn't stop it, what good are you?" (259). Perhaps the banishment of her most significant cultural gift after the rape is an indication that Lisa feels betrayed by her culture because her attacker was ‘one of her own'. She regrets this decision later, and her guilt over not being able to save Ma-ma-oo because she turned her back on the spirit that might have warned her becomes one more reason to feel guilty and ashamed about the rape and its aftermath.

Lisa's inability or lack of desire to tell about her rape has a significant impact on her. As Felman and Laub explain, "the 'not telling' of the story serves as a perpetuation of its tyranny. The events become more and more distorted in their silent retention and pervasively invade and contaminate the survivor's daily life" (79). Shortly after the rape, Lisa begins sleepwalking, wandering out of her house at all hours. Her encounters with the spirit world also increase and intensify and her grades at school spiral downwards. Eventually, she finds herself in Vancouver, using alcohol and drugs to cope with and take away her pain. She tells us there were "two years erased, down the toilet, blotto" – although her need to numb herself for that long has to do as much with her grief over Mick and Ma-ma-oo as it does with being raped (296). When the novel ends, Lisa still has not told anyone about the rape. In fact, shortly after the rape passage the event all but disappears from the text, as though Robinson, fearful of having raised such a controversial issue (the function of patriarchy in her already-oppressed culture), is eager to return it to the shadows from which it came. In failing to further address the impact of the rape on Lisa and the significance of the fact that she is raped by a native boy, Robinson misses an opportunity to explore the connection of this personal (private) trauma to the trauma of colonization. Hence some of Robinson's work in creating a counter-hegemonic text begins to unravel.

Reliving Internment: National (Public) Trauma in The Electrical Field

All of the characters in Kerri Sakamoto's The Electrical Field are impacted by the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Some of the characters were only children during the internment, while others, like Sachi, were born afterwards, but none of them have escaped the lasting impact of this large-scale, public trauma. There has been a great deal of pressure, both internal and external, on those who survived the camps to remain silent, or to attempt to forget about their experiences.

The characters in Sakamoto's book have all succumbed to this pressure to remain silent about their experiences of internment, with the exception of Yano. Yet Yano, the one character who insists on remembering, is an outcast even among other Japanese Canadians. As his wife Chisako explains: "All he does is talk about the war and the camps when they just want to forget. They think he's crazy, I know" (24). The act of remembering is thus linked to insanity in the text, while forgetting, at least initially, is seen as a way of moving on with one's life, of coping with the past, of staying sane. As the text progresses, however, these binaries begin to crumble.

Asako Saito, the novel's narrator, is both irritated and alarmed at Yano's insistence on remembering and seeking redress for their experiences in the camps. "I had no interest in that kind of discussion," she tells us, "of things I'd long ago left behind and made my peace with" (71). In her early conversations with Yano, Asako is trying to convince us (and herself) that the camps have made no lingering impact on her life or the lives of those around her. Her descriptions of Yano near the beginning of the text portray her conviction that his passionate commitment to redress is a kind of mania: "It was Yano, the thought of him, wild, crazy man in the middle of my placid afternoon, riling me. He was forever ranting about something, raking back his hair with his dirty fingernails . . . Over and over he’d ask me about the camps" (5). She considers her own attempts at forgetting about the camps, shared by her family and her neighbours, to be the normal, sane thing to do.

Slowly, Asako's control over her memories of the internment, and her ability to deny its lasting impact start to slip. She begins to narrate glimpses of her internal life, of her regular conversations with and fantasies about her brother Eiji, who died in the camps. We get bits of information about the internal dialogues she has regularly: "there I'd be, muttering away to myself or counting my steps" (107). Slowly, the divide between herself and Yano starts to dwindle away, leaving Asako feeling less confident about her sanity: "I shuddered, wondering if I sounded anything like him with my mutterings: more than a little crazy" (109). The memories and feelings Asako has worked so hard to suppress begin to surface, causing her to eventually begin to acknowledge the ways in which Yano is right about how traumatic the internment was, and to feel so connected to him that she finds herself speaking in his own words (284). The last thing Yano says to Asako is "things would have been different for you too [had the internment never happened]" and Asako finally acknowledges, "I know" (302).

Despite the fact that the Canadian state had no right or reason to imprison Japanese Canadians, most of whom were Canadian citizens, many Japanese Canadians felt for years afterwards, and perhaps still feel, as though the internment was somehow their fault. Yano raises this issue in the novel when he explains to Asako that Chisako, who was in Japan during the war, "doesn't know what it feels like to be ashamed to be nihonjin" (94). This feeling of somehow having provoked the internment--perhaps, as Yano suggests, because they were "doing too well"--partly explains the reluctance of Japanese Canadians to seek redress, and the difficulty Yano has getting people to come to his redress meetings (122).

But attempts to forget the traumatic experience of internment can also be read as a technique for survival; those who failed to suppress the memories or to deny the impact of the internment faced a near-impossible task in continuing to function, to live day-to-day without being overwhelmed by fear, rage, or grief. Yano's brother is an example of such a person. Permanently locked away in a mental hospital, he can no longer stand the sight "of an Oriental," due, Asako believes, to the intense closeness forced on all of them by the camps, "those smells, those noises, those voices" (100). Hence suppression and forgetting, similar to the behavior of Lisa's parents in Monkey Beach, serve dual purposes, by assisting invisibility and allowing one to continue to function without being disabled by emotions. But something is lost in the act of suppressing and forgetting, especially in the long term. The survivor fails to move beyond 'surviving,' and while the survival itself is an accomplishment, the energy expended in forgetting cannot be applied to creative use or to confront those who caused the trauma.

The suppression of emotion that allows continued functioning has a lasting impact, even on those who did not experience the camps firsthand, such as Sachi. Frustrated by her parents' inability to express love for her, indeed by their inability to feel, Sachi is constantly "thinking too much, feeling too much" (89). Her lack of an outlet for her frustrations and emotions, combined with a desire for any attention from her parents, causes Sachi to lash out by slashing her hands with a knife and by attempting repeatedly to climb the electrical towers. Confused and angered by the numbness she senses in the adults around her--in her parents, in Asako--Sachi continues to enact the trauma brought on by internment.

Underneath the large-scale trauma of internment, The Electrical Field deals with two personal (private) traumas: Eiji's death and the murder-suicide of Yano, Chisako, and their children. Both of these events overlap with the internment, impacting the way they are experienced and interpreted by those who survive them.

Personal (Private) Trauma in The Electrical Field

The novel is nearing its end before we finally learn the details surrounding the death of Asako's brother, Eiji. We know that he died in the camps, but the cause is not clear until Asako brings herself to tell us, although significantly she does not tell the story out loud. "I could not tell Yano it was me," she repeats over and over as she narrates the events surrounding her brother's death (301). She prefers to let Yano believe that Eiji died because of the conditions in the camps, instead of telling him what amounts to her truth: that Eiji died because she loved him and selfishly wanted his attention, wanted him to prove his love by rescuing her from the icy water she threw herself into. The death of the brother that she loved more than any other person is a significant trauma for Asako. It is obvious from her continued pining for Eiji, her conversations with his photograph, and the central place he still possesses in her life that Asako has not fully grieved the loss of her brother, nor recovered from its traumatic effects. Through repetition of the fact that she could not tell anyone about her role in Eiji's death, the novel asks us to consider the significance of telling in recovering from trauma, and we are positioned as witnesses to the testimony that Asako cannot bring herself to tell anyone else.

It is possible that Asako's determination that she is fully responsibility for Eiji's death may function to support her denial of the impact of the internment on their lives. If she maintains that she is fully responsible, she is able to uphold her conviction that the most significant personal trauma of her life is disconnected from the national (public) trauma of internment. Perhaps it is easier to live with this sense of personal responsibility than to live with the injustice of internment, and the grief, rage, and despair at her utter lack of control over the event that an admission of its impact would entail.

The deaths of Yano, Chisako, and their children are the traumas that drive the novel. Asako wants to remain in denial about Yano's role in the shootings of Chisako and her lover. She is so adamant about his innocence that we are also left skeptical about whether or not he is the murderer, until the evidence becomes irrefutable. Yano's act is supposedly committed out of passionate fury at his wife's adultery, but there is also much in the text that links his violence to the traumatic experience of internment. "Everything was ruined for [Yano], you see," Asako explains to the detective investigating the murder, referring to Yano's inability to put the camps behind him (283). Also, the man who sells Yano the gun recalls him for the papers as "an Oriental man, nervous;" his race prevailing as his foremost feature to a white onlooker (61). Asako describes Yano's "broad, ugly hands in tight fists of frustration, like Papa's in years past; he was so angry at himself and the rest of the world" (66). Thus Yano's anger, like her father's, is linked to their shared experience of the camps. Not surprisingly, however, newspaper reports of the murder do not mention Yano's redress activities – such a public acknowledgement of the internment might spark sympathy for the murderous man in some readers, raising questions about who is ultimately responsible for this private trauma.

The act of violence that Yano commits cannot be read outside of its patriarchal underpinnings. His rage is brought on by his wife's adultery and, although the text does not raise the issue, it is likely his rage is heightened by the fact that she is adulterous with a white man, representative of the men who caused the Japanese Canadians to be imprisoned. Yano kills Chisako because he feels a sense of entitlement to do so – she is his wife, his property, and her loyalty is expected. Asako notes Yano's pride in getting "himself a Japanese girl from Japan" (92). It is as though Yano's pride in Chisako stems from what he perceives to be her pure Japanese-ness, untainted by the Canadian-ness that caused him so much suffering through the internment. As such, it becomes clear how he could see her affair with Mr. Spears, a white Canadian, as tainting and therefore unforgivable.

Trauma Narratives and Patriarchal/National Myth-Making

Both Monkey Beach and The Electrical Field implicate the traumas of patriarchy with the project of national myth-making. It is the acts of violence directed toward women in both texts which remind us that the national (public) traumas are intimately connected to the personal (private) ones – that traumas inflicted by patriarchy both sustain and overlap those directed toward cultures, and vice versa. J. Brooks Bouson describes Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye as a novel that reveals "how humiliated individuals can temporarily rid themselves of their shame and humiliation by humiliating others" (211). Both Monkey Beach and The Electrical Field reveal much the same thing (although perhaps not as successfully as The Bluest Eye), thus implicating all of us in the private traumas through our roles, as members of our society, in the national (public) traumas of colonization and internment.

We are invited to view Yano's act of violence, for example, as stemming as much from his suffering through the trauma of internment as from his sense of entitlement to his wife as property, and this understanding complicates our view of him as solely a victim of the trauma inflicted by the Canadian state. But the suggestion that Yano enacts patriarchy as a result of being traumatized by internment places the national (public) trauma as more significant, and problematically reinscribes his act of violence against his wife to the realm of the private.

Similarly, Robinson reminds us that racial oppression is not the only trauma suffered by First Nations people through her portrayal of Lisa's rape by a Native boy and Karaoke's sexual abuse by her cousin, Josh. Despite the limitations to the portrayal of Lisa's rape, discussed earlier, the very inclusion of the rape is an indication that myths of the historicity and 'truth' of patriarchy need undoing as badly as those of the founding of the Canadian nation from a landscape that was devoid of people and culture, begging to be 'discovered.' Thus these acts of violence against women, condoned under patriarchy, also support the nationalist project by reducing our sympathy for those men who have suffered a national (public) trauma such as colonization or internment, unintentionally reinforcing the position of their oppressors through their commission of violence. Men oppressed by racism who enact their privilege under patriarchy therefore unwittingly undermine their project of confronting racism by aligning themselves with their oppressors. Similarly, by unintentionally leaving notions of patriarchy and masculinity untroubled in their novels, both Sakamoto and Robinson to some degree undermine their project of disrupting dominant narratives of nation.

Bearing Witness to Share the Burden of Pain

"It is not sufficient for mastering trauma," writes Susan Brison, "to construct a narrative of it: One must (physically, publicly) say or write (or paint or film) the narrative, and others must see or hear it ..." (29). Through the writing and publishing of their novels, both Eden Robinson and Kerri Sakamoto have put forth narratives that deal with national (public) and personal (private) traumas, to be read by an audience which in the act of reading bears witness to these events. As Felman and Laub describe it:

The specific task of the literary testimony is... to open up in that belated witness, which the reader now historically becomes, the imaginative capability of perceiving history – what is happening to others – in one's own body, with the power of sight (of insight) usually afforded only by one's immediate physical involvement. (108)

To provide such testimony in the genre of fiction likely enhances this type of empathic response, for although these novels will lack, for some readers, the 'authority' assigned to autobiographical accounts of trauma, it is important to note the unique capacity of fiction to allow us to enter a story as though it were our own. Because we recognize that the characters are fictional--that we are not bearing witness to someone’s actual testimony, but rather to someone’s imagined or possible/potential testimony--it is perhaps easier for us to experience their stories in our own bodies. Both Robinson and Sakamoto's use of first person narrators facilitates such an experience for readers of their novels.

These novels, then, possess the potential to contribute to the recovery of those that have experienced the traumas these texts address, just as our role in bearing witness to the traumas by reading the texts also has the potential to contribute to this recovery. Judith Herman suggests that "when traumatic events are of human design, those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides" (7). In positioning us to 'bear witness' to the traumas raised in these texts the authors then risk the possibility that we will side with the perpetrators. As Herman elaborates, it is "tempting to take the side of the perpetrator," because the perpetrator asks nothing of us, while the victim asks us to "share the burden of pain" (7).

Some readers of Monkey Beach and The Electrical Field may side with the perpetrators by dismissing the texts, but some will not. And perhaps the fact that these texts do force us to take sides, thereby challenging our culture of inaction, disengagement, and ambivalence, is a significant accomplishment in and of itself. Further, the texts likely function in the healing not only of communities but also of individuals, the authors included. Kateri Damm argues that the writing of First Nations people is "a means of affirming the cultures, of clarifying lies, of speaking truth, of resisting oppression, of asserting identity, of self-empowerment, of survival, of moving beyond survival. In words, the healing continues" (113).

In pondering what contribution those who lack direct experience of a traumatic event can contribute to the recovery of those who suffered it, Susan Brison argues that while we might never be able to fully understand the trauma, "to remain silent in the aftermath of it would be immoral" (30). She insists that we must "say 'no'" to such events, "not the 'no' of denial [but] the 'no' of acknowledgement of what happened and refusal to let it happen again" (31). Both Monkey Beach and The Electrical Field seem ultimately to speak such a 'no,' and will inspire this 'no' to be taken up by some who read the novels, through positioning us to bear witness to the traumas that occur therein. As a result, the very presence of these counter-hegemonic texts contributes to the (dis)integration of Canadian nationalism and patriarchal myth-making.

Works Cited

Bannerji, H. The Dark Side of the Nation: Essays on Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender. Toronto: Canadian Scholar's Press, 2000.

Bouson, J.B. "'Quiet As It's Kept': Shame and Trauma in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye." Scenes of Shame: Psychoanalysis, Shame, and Writing. New York: SUNY P, 1999. 207-236.

Brison, S. "Outliving Oneself: Trauma, Memory, and Personal Identity." Feminists Rethink the Self. Meyers, D. (Ed.). Colorado: Westview P, 1997.

Culleton Mosionier, B. In Search of April Raintree. Critical Edition. Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1999.

Damm, K. "Dispelling and Telling: Speaking Native Realities in Maria Campbell's Halfbreed and Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree." Looking at the Words of Our People: First Nations Analysis of Literature. Armstrong, J. (Ed.) Penticton: Theytus Books, 1993. 93-114.

Felman, S. & Laub, D. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge, 1992. Herman, J. Trauma and Recovery. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Robinson, E. Monkey Beach. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. S

akamoto, K. The Electrical Field. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Stamm, B.H. & Stamm, H.E. "Trauma and Loss in Native North America: An Ethnocultural Perspective." Honoring Differences: Cultural Issues in the Treatment of Trauma and Loss. Michigan: Brunner/Mazel, 1995. 49-75.

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