Michelle Jean | A song for Frankfurt

(Frankfurt (Germany)) When he heard for the first time extracts from his novel Cucumber Michael Jean, who studied at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany on Wednesday, thought of his great-grandfather Almanda.

Stephanie Morin

“I was emotional. I wondered what Almanda thought about it all. This woman of Irish origin, still in love, carried books in her luggage to occupy the long winters in the tent;

Along with eight Canadian writers, Michael Jean spent this week in Frankfurt, where he was a guest of the Canada Book Fair. His novel Cucumber Translated into German now Has my, A collection of short stories he edited. Another of his books, Grandfather, Is underway soon. And his publishing house is juggling the idea of ​​translating his novel into boarding schools for the local population. The wind still talks about it, Our translator Michael von Killish-Horn (responsible for translating Michael Jean’s words into Goethe).

The writer, journalist and news anchor all take it with humility and a wonderful touch. “I’m like a kid in Belmont Park! He’s laughing.

Not a representative or activist

In Frankfurt, he had to answer several questions from journalists and panelists on the primitive reality of Canada, if he did not “pretend” to consider himself a representative of the indigenous Canadian community (“Joséphine Bacon is a representative, I ‘I am not! “).

“What interests them is not feathers or folktales, especially political issues, including first-class self-determination and indigenous rights,” said Michelle Jean, particularly reluctant to add. Activist label. “I am, I will try to explain things.”

He commented that many journalists were surprised by his responses: “The attention that Germans and the rest of the world often give to Canada is that of a peacekeeper. Beneficial country, left… By learning more about primitive history, they discovered another Canada, another Quebec… ”

Photo courtesy of Niklas Gorke, Frankfurt Book Fair

Michael Jean (right) and Canadian author Paul Seacacis (center) answer questions from the host on the Frankfurt Fair stage.

In Frankfurt, Michael Jean had the confirmation of what he already perceived: domestic stories are universal. And even if Canadians don’t want to hear them, they should be given all the expenses.

When the Governor General of Canada, Mary May Simon, delivered a touching speech on the importance of Indigenous voices on the opening night of the fair, the reporter shed a few tears. “She reminded me that we have the right to talk about our stories. We exist. We have the right to be there! I was moved to hear him speak inductively on stage. It was a moment engraved in my heart.

Questions and answers without red herring

During his stay, Michel Jean participated in several interviews on German television and radio, but also in France. Regardless of the media, many of the questions asked by reporters were traumatic or complex: the disappearance of Indigenous cultures and languages, the recent discovery of human remains near residential schools, and the signs (or not) made by Canada for reconciliation. ….

When asked if he was angry with the plight of the nationals, he replied: “I am not an angry person, but there is pain in losing ground. We Aboriginal people tell difficult stories, but often in a soft voice. With Cucumber, I wanted to talk about forced sedentarization rather than a character taller than Almanda. For a long time, we had no one to listen to our stories. ”

Why? Captured his interlocutor.

Because these are sensitive subjects, they belong to the territory and have the right to occupy it. In Quebec, people are considered victims of English colonialism. They have David vs. Goliath Syndrome. For the natives, they had forgotten that they were Goliaths.

michelle jean

But the man was optimistic: “10 years ago people didn’t read local writers. What I am experiencing today is then impossible. I think Canadian society is changing, although there is still a long way to go. ”

Proud to talk about its origins

Michelle Jean has changed her attitude towards her still identity. Granted, until recently, Michelle Jean did not present herself as a native, at least professionally, in public. Why? “I did like my mother and my grandmother, the only mother in the white village. They were called savages and wanted to join the group. When I started in journalism, being a domestic was not a plus. It mostly drew negative comments. But I have always been very proud and very curious about my local origins. I am. ”

Photo courtesy of the Frankfurt Fair

Fair President and CEO J ెన్ rgen Boos (left) speaks with authors Kim Thai and Michelle Jean.

A school librarian in Pesamit‌ persuaded her to publicly present her source when she – unknowingly – wrote on a small sign stuck under a stack of books: Michelle Jean, now an author. Someone forwarded the photo to the director concerned. Click.

This woman wanted to make the pupils understand that she could still be one and also a writer. I realized that there was no local population in the public space and that First Nations youth did not see themselves on television or in the newspapers. Since then, I have not been afraid to talk about my origins.

michelle jean

From now on, each young person can claim for himself that he can take himself to the other side of the world for the biggest book fair in the world …

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