That sort of change has begun to take place across Canada. In recent years, the government has established an official investigation into missing or murdered Indigenous women and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission focused on the estimated 150,000 Indigenous children who were separated from their families to attend assimilationist residential schools, the last of which closed in the late 1990s.
Ms. Maracle “was before the reckoning,” Daniel Justice, a professor of Indigenous literature at the University of British Columbia, said. “She was one of the voices that helped herald the reckoning and was ceaseless in her commitment to that.”
Waubgeshig Rice, an Indigenous Canadian journalist and author who co-hosts a podcast about Indigenous writing, said that Ms. Maracle was among the first writers about Indigenous life he had ever read, and that the experience made a lasting impact.
“She carried stories of her people very responsibly and very effectively and proudly, and it inspired me to explore that way to tell stories,” Mr. Rice said. “I can’t think of anybody who hasn’t been influenced by her in some way.”
Indigenous Children Vanished in Canada
The remains of what are presumed to be Indigenous children have been discovered at the sites of defunct boarding schools in Canada. Here’s what you should know:
- Background: Around 1883, Indigenous children in many parts of Canada were forced to attend residential schools in a forced assimilation program. Most of these schools were operated by churches, and all of them banned the use of Indigenous languages and Indigenous cultural practices, often through violence. Disease, as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse were widespread. An estimated 150,000 children passed through the schools between their opening and their closing in 1996.
- The Missing Children: A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up as part of a government apology and settlement over the schools, concluded that at least 4,100 students died while attending them, many from mistreatment or neglect, others from disease or accident. In many cases, families never learned the fate of their offspring, who are now known as “the missing children.”
- The Discoveries: In May, members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation found 215 bodies at the Kamloops school — which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church until 1969 — after bringing in ground-penetrating radar. In June, an Indigenous group said the remains of as many as 751 people, mainly children, had been found in unmarked graves on the site of a former boarding school in Saskatchewan.
- Cultural Genocide: In a 2015 report, the commission concluded that the system was a form of “cultural genocide.” Murray Sinclair, a former judge and senator who headed the commission, recently said he now believed the number of disappeared children was “well beyond 10,000.”
- Apologies and Next Steps: The commission called for an apology from the pope for the Roman Catholic church’s role. Pope Francis stopped short of one, but the archbishop of Vancouver apologized on behalf of his archdiocese. Canada has formally apologized and offered financial and other search support, but Indigenous leaders believe the government still has a long way to go.
Marguerite Aline Carter was born on July 2, 1950, in North Vancouver. (“Lee” was a nickname derived from Aline.) She was raised primarily by her mother, Jean (Croutze) Carter, a nurse and social worker. She grew up with a stepfather, Phillip Carter.
Her father, Bob George, came from a socially prominent family — he was the son of the Oscar-nominated actor Chief Dan George — but Mr. George did not acknowledge that he was her father until she was an adult.
She wrote in “I Am Woman” that though her mother could not always give her enough to eat, she was brought up with “national pride, social conscience, fairness and a tenacious will.” As a girl, she spent time with local luminaries like the legal activist Andrew Paull and the carrier of ancient Indigenous traditions Chief August Jack Khahtsahlano.