Seeing Through the Dark, Breaking Through the Silence: An Interview with Julie Flett
The Canadian policy of aggressive assimilation, in which First Nations children were removed from their families and institutionalized in residential schools robbed generations Indigenous children of their mother tongues. Now, following the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there is a long-overdue impetus to revitalize and preserve these critically endangered languages. This paper considers the ways in which Cree-Métis children’s author and illustrator, Julie Flett, is breaking the silence imposed on Indigenous voice through her growing corpus of bilingual texts for young readers. Featuring an interview with conducted with Julie Flett, I show how her gentle illustrations and growing confidence in her authorial voice draw family languages, hidden from children out of necessity, out of the darkness. Like the owl heralding a moment of transition, Flett’s texts herald the need to break the silence imposed on Indigenous voices and restore voice to new generations.