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Rita Mestokosho, Innu Poet in Multilingual Edition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Romance Studies and Classics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6107-735X
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Romance Studies and Classics.
2016 (English)In: SAAS (Swedish Association of American Studies), 9th Biennial Conference: Panel 5. The Treatment of History in Canadian Literature, 2016Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In his Nobel speech on 7th December 2008 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio declared that literature had become a weapon in the service of the expression of cultural identity. He referred more specifically to the Innu writer Rita Mestokosho and to her commitment to the protection of a certain way of life.

Rita Mestokosho is born in 1966 in Ekuanitshit Innu territory where she is still living today. Her first book of poetry Eshi Uapataman Nukum ( How I perceive life , Grandmother) was published in 1995. Republished in Sweden in 2010 in a bilingual edition. Her latest book Née de la pluie et de la terre was published in 2014 by Editions Bruno Doucey.

As a member of the Innu council, Rita Mestokosho acts as a communicator for her community and is very much involved in cultural and educational projects.

" I am Innu, and Innu means human being. We are almost 15.000 Innus, split into 11 communities, 2 in Labrador with English as their second language, 9 in Quebec with French as their second language. We live between 2 worlds, the modern and the traditional. Finding a balance between them is not easy because our traditional land is always threatened by the bigger forest-industries, the dams for hydro-energy and the mines. Our life and survival are linked to the survival of the rivers, the forest and the lakes. Writing in a language, in the French language is also a necessity. It enables us to reach a wider audience for expressing our fears in a poetical way."

The communities of Pessamit, Essipit, la Romaine, Mashteuiatsh, Matimekosh, Mingan, Natahsquan, Pakuashipi, Uashat Maliotenam  which are the 9 communities in Quebec compose what Rita M. names the Innu " nation ".

Rita M. represents indeed a small cultural minority but literature enables her to speak with a universal voice as her poems are published in a multilingual edition. We would like to present here how the fight for the survival of the Innu community reflects the rise of a political native awareness in Québec. We will refer to the interviews we had with Rita Mestokosho during her 2 visits to Stockholm in 2009 and 2014 and to the articles we wrote for the Quebec magazine  Littoral/ Côte ouest ( GRÉNOC groupe de recherche sur la l’écriture nord-côtière) 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Mestokosho, native languages, minorities, heritage, Innu
National Category
Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134071OAI: diva2:989904
SAAS, 9th Biennial Conference
Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2016-09-30Bibliographically approved

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