Magic Weapons

Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community after Residential School

Sam McKegney (Author)

The legacy of the residential school system ripples throughout Native Canada, its fingerprints on the domestic violence, poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide rates that continue to cripple many Native communities. Magic Weapons is the first major survey of Indigenous writings on the residential school system, and provides groundbreaking readings of life writings by Rita Joe (Mi’kmaq) and Anthony Apakark Thrasher (Inuit) as well as in-depth critical studies of better known life writings by Basil Johnston (Ojibway) and Tomson Highway (Cree). Magic Weapons examines the ways in which Indigenous survivors of residential school mobilize narrative in their struggles for personal and communal empowerment in the shadow of attempted cultural genocide. By treating Indigenous life-writings as carefully crafted aesthetic creations and interrogating their relationship to more overtly politicized historical discourses, Sam McKegney argues that Indigenous life-writings are culturally generative in ways that go beyond disclosure and recompense, re-envisioning what it means to live and write as Indigenous individuals in post-residential school Canada.

Awards

  • Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title (2008)

Reviews

“Sam McKegney’s Magic Weapons is a thought-provoking introduction to the political and academic debates over the residential school system that scarred generations of Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit people in Canada. His holistic, interdisciplinary approach represents a new direction in Aboriginal Studies in Canada.”

– Topia 20, p 238-240

“For a scholar who is neither of Aboriginal ancestry nor a survivor, in any sense, of residential schools, McKegney took on a challenging task in his ‘critical posture of an ally.’ His analytical and argumentative skills served him well in bringing to the fore the richness of the selected texts and ‘resilience of agency throughout victimhoood’ in each one of them.”

– Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol 28 no.1, 2008

“This is a refreshing, conscientious reaffirmation of the activist nature of language, literature, and critical discourse. Highly recommended.”

– Choice Magazine, August 2008

Magic Weapons is an invaluable political as well as literary commentary, persuasively arguing that indigenous life writings are culturally formative in ways beyond simple disclosure. A highly recommended addition to Native American studies shelves.”

– Midwest Book Review

“A thought-provoking introduction to the political and academic debates over the residential school system that scarred generations of Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit people in Canada. [McKegney’s] holistic, interdisciplinary approach represents a new direction in Aboriginal Studies in Canada.”

– Nilanjana Deb, _Topia

“This is a deftly argued study of an aspect of Aboriginal literature that has not received enough attention. McKegney shows another side of the history of residential schooling in Canada, allowing for the place of imagination and agency in response to the trauma that such history has engendered. It is an important work because it illuminates the multiplicitous ways in which residential school survivors have come to terms with their experiences.”

– Warren Cariou, Department of English, University of Manitoba and author of Lake of the Prairies

About the Author

Sam McKegney is a settler scholar of Indigenous literatures. He grew up in Anishinaabe territory on the Saugeen Peninsula along the shores of Lake Huron and currently resides with his partner and their two daughters in traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples where he is an Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in the English Department at Queen’s University. He has published a collection of interviews entitled Masculindians: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood, a monograph entitled Magic Weapons: Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community after Residential School, and articles on such topics as environmental kinship, masculinity theory, prison writing, Indigenous governance, and Canadian hockey mythologies.

Other contributors: Foreword by Basil Johnston.

Book Details

  • Magic Weapons: Aboriginal Writers Remaking Community after Residential School
  • Sam McKegney (Author)
  • Published November 2007, 241 pages
  • Paper, ISBN: 9780887557026, 6 × 9, $28.95
  • Topic(s): Indigenous Studies, Literary Criticism

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