May 24, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Michelle Jean | A song for Frankfurt

Michelle Jean |  A song for Frankfurt

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

Stephanie Morin

Stephanie Morin

“I was emotional. I wondered what Almanda thought of all this. This woman of Irish origin, still in love, brought 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 at the Canada Book Fair. His novel Cucumber Translated into German now Amun, A collection of short stories he edited. Another of his books, Grandfather, Is in process soon. And his publishing house is juggling the idea of ​​translating his novel into residential schools for local people. The wind still talks about it, Our translator Michael von Killish-Horn (responsible for translating Michael Jean words into Goethe).

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

Not a representative or activist

In Frankfurt, he had to answer a number of questions from journalists and panelists about the primitive reality in Canada, if he did not “pretend” that he considered himself a representative of the indigenous Canadian community (“Josephine Bacon is a representative, I’m not!”).

“What interests them is not feathers or folk tales, especially political questions, especially on first-class self-determination and indigenous rights,” said Michelle Jean, who is particularly reluctant to add. Militant label. “I’m, I’ll try to explain things.”

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He commented that many journalists were surprised by his answers: “The focus that the Germans and the rest of the world often see on 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 a 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 Canadian Governor-General Mary May Simon delivered a touching speech on the importance of indigenous voices on the opening night of the fair, the reporter shed some 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 journalists were traumatic or complex: the disappearance of indigenous cultures and languages, the recent discovery of human remains near residential schools, and signs (or not) made by Canada for reconciliation ….

Asked if he was angry at the fate assigned to the nationals, he replied: “I am not an angry person, but there is pain in losing territory. We Indigenous people tell difficult stories, but often in a soft voice. With Cucumber, I wanted to talk about forced sedentarization rather than a bigger character than Almanda. For a long time, we had no one to listen to our stories. ”

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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 indigenous people, 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, though there is still a long way to go. ”

Proud to talk about its origins

Michelle Jean changed her attitude towards her still identity. True, until recently, Michelle Jean did not present herself as a native, at least professionally, in public. Why? “I did the same as 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 domestic was not a plus. It mostly attracted negative comments. But I was always very proud and very curious about my local origins. I am. ”

Photo courtesy of Frankfurt Fair

Fair President and CEO, Jెన్rgen Boos (left), speaks with authors Kim Thai and Michelle Jean.

A librarian at a school in Pesamit‌ persuaded her to publicly present her source when she – unknowingly – wrote on a small sign pasted under a pile of books: Michelle Jean, now author. Someone forwarded the photo to the relevant principal. Clicked.

From now on, every young person can claim for themselves that they can take themselves to the other side of the world for the world’s largest book fair …