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News > Culture

Canada: Black, Indigenous Artists Decolonize Science Fiction

  • screenshot of Danis Goulet's short film Wakening

    screenshot of Danis Goulet's short film Wakening

Published 15 November 2017

Canadian artists are recreating future civilizations and decolonizing popular literature through their science fiction writings

Black and Indigenous people in Canada are recreating future civilizations and decolonizing popular literature through their science fiction writings.

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In a CBC interview, Cree/Metis Indigenous writer and filmmaker Danis Goulet said "action and agency starts with the ability to imagine," taking back a genre dominated by white males. She told the CBC that European colonizers of Canada have attempted to subserve and control First Nations populations through the “residential school experience” and other government programs. 
Goulet said that fiction writing about Indigenous culture “can be a very powerful thing because then we have the ability to imagine different futures other than what was literally programmed and predetermined for us," Goulet said.

"As soon as you can dream about the future, you have hope as well instead of despair." Goulet produced the virtual reality film “The Hunt" set in the year 2167.

Award-winning playwright, novelist, journalist and filmmaker Drew Hayden Taylor hails from Ontario's Curve Lake First Nation. He authored the 2016 work "Take Us To Your Chief and Other Stories," a collection of science fiction narratives described as a “mesh of … 1950s-esque science fiction with modern First Nations discourse.”
Taylor said that “Native science fiction” may seem contradictory to some people, reminding the public that Indigenous peoples are not a relic of the past, but are “contemporary and future beings.” Like Goulet, Taylor draws what to them are obvious parallels between science fiction writing and the Native American experience in North America. He said succinctly, "I don't know of another culture in North America that can really relate [to] the experience of strangers suddenly showing up and taking over everything and imposing their will on the people." 
Black author Minister Faust writes on African civilizations and techno-futures, saying that Eurocentric science fiction commits "a kind of literary genocide by wiping us out from the future." Faust added that most North Americans imagine the African continent as “grass skirts and bones through noses." He and other Afrofuturist writers want to decolonize this image.

These authors create worlds “where Africans continue to create and build futures using advanced technologies," Faust said.

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