One of the vans had a table set up with orange juice and sandwiches and fruit. It was for the crew, but when I told them we hadn’t eaten for a while, a really skinny blonde woman told us we could eat as much as we wanted. “When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me and my sisters out on the prairies and tell us stories about all the stars.”
This all changed for the mom and son when the media got involved and interviewed the mom and son about the issues they faced in terms of crossing the border. Then, the mom and son tried one last time to cross the border. My earliest encounter with the works of Thomas King came in the form of a Technicolored subversive picture book by the name of A Coyote Columbus Story. One of the rare books willing to not just poke fun at Christopher Columbus but depict him as an out-and-out clown (I always like to put it on display on Indigenous Peoples’ Day), it’s a clever amalgamation of the coyote myth and history. Mr. King primarily writes for adults, but since that discovery I was able to occasionally read some of his other coyote-related books for kids ( Coyote Sings to the Moon, Coyote’s New Suit, A Coyote Solstice Tale, and Coyote Tales).
He is a founding member and the coordinator of the teacher’s section of the Association for Canadian Studies in the German speaking countries and a member of The Association for the Study of the New Literatures in English. Among other things he has published a number of articles, mainly concerned with the didactics of Canadian topics and materials, short story anthologies and he is co-authoring school books for high schools. The story also offers a multitude of post-reading activities that motivate students not only to reflect on the story, but also have them productively use the target language. The border scene, for example, could easily be turned into role-play or the whole story into a radio play. Students could write a newspaper article for the reserve’s newspaper, the “Reserve Chronicle,” or produce a TV report.
When the Native peoples leave their reserves they cross cultural borders and, obviously, have to leave behind their native identity be it Blackfoot or Ojibwa or Iroquois. Unless they are either Canadian or American they will end up in no-man’s land. They are not even considered hyphenated Americans or Canadians14. “Borders” clearly illustrates how difficult it has been for the native peoples to live up to the ideal of Canadian multiculturalism, which guarantees its citizens the right to preserve their heritage and identity and provides a home and a sense of belonging. King’s story subtly hints at the fact that the native peoples’ identity as a distinct people and the survival of their traditions and cultures, in particular, have always been at stake.
Right in the middle of the program, Laetitia turned off the set and said she was going to Salt Lake City, that life around here was too boring. I had wanted to see the rest of the program and really didn’t care if Laetitia went to Salt Lake City or not. When Mom got home, I told her what Laetitia had said. The second night in the car was not as much fun as the first, but my mother seemed in good spirits, and, all in all, it was as much an adventure as an inconvenience. There wasn’t much food left and that was a problem, but we had lots of water as there was a faucet at the side of the duty-free shop.
The readiness to understand differences has to be a reciprocal and two-way process. Students have the chance to experience at least a glimpse of this different culture and to approach it via empathy. It may seem intimidating at first but once you start to get involved with the community that is your new home away from home, there are many things you will learn about their which ecosystem contains 32 of the world’s producers culture and customs as well. It might take some time for this one to sink in but in the end it all comes down to how much of a risk taker you are! Not only do we see an entirely new set of people everyday who come from different backgrounds, but also they bring with them stories or even recipes that give us insight into what life was like growing up in their home country.
I knew exactly what my mother was going to say, and I could have told them if they had asked me. Most of the postcards said we should come down and see the city, but whenever I mentioned this, my mother would stiffen up. “And she can’t even swim,” my mother told Mrs. Manyfingers. “You can still see the mountain from here” my mother told Laetitia in Blackfoot. There was an old wooden building about a block away, with a tall sign in the yard that said “Museum.” Most of the roof had been blown away. Mom told me to go and see when the place was open.
Laetitia seems to be very happy in Salt Lake City and she found a good job and a good apartment. After a while the mother and the son decide to visit Laetitia, but at the borders the guards won‘t let them pass, because the mother doesn’t want to tell them her nationalitiy. They refuse to let them in unless the mother tells them whether she is American or Canadian.