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Volume 34, Number 2 (2009)

Indigenous Writing and the Residential School Legacy: A Public Interview with Basil Johnston

February 23, 2010


Throughout his prolific literary career, Anishinaubae elder, orator, and teacher Basil H. Johnston has advocated passionately for Indigenous cultural revitalization in Canada. Several of his fifteen English-language books facilitate the endurance of Anishinaubae worldview by examining the social, political, and spiritual traditions of the Anishinaubaeg. Avoiding the hyperbole often associated with the residential school system (by both its proponents and its critics), Johnston has acknowledged that “you can’t credit [residential] schools with everything, nor can you blame [the] schools for everything.” During his interview with Sam McKegney, Johnston discusses his book Indian School Days and comments that “the healing has to come from inside, from ourselves.” He also promotes txhe Anishinaubae tradition of teaching duty and responsibility along with rights.