- No Burden to Carry: Narratives of Black Working Women in Ontario, 1920s to 1950s ed. by Dionne Brand; and: The Granddaughters of Ixmucané ed. by Emilie Smith-Ayak (review)
- University of Toronto Quarterly
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 62, Number 1, Fall 1992
- pp. 120-129
- View Citation
- Additional Information
120 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 published English translation contains "departed."' Is it indeed possible to create 'an equal in English' when the point of departure is the genesis, structure, and literature of another/Other language? Nevertheless, Halsall's Gradus remains a valuable tool for French and English students, particularly for anglophone readers studying French, and reflects the translator's vast knowledge of both languages and literatures. Readers will note the important contribution made by the late David Lobdell even to this limited selection of works. Long admired for his respectful, sensitive, and uncompromising translations, Lobdell greatly contributed to the recognition of translation as a demanding art and encouraged cultural exchange between two communities with which he was very much in touch. He will be greatly missed. This article will conclude with an apology to those translators and writers whose work was not received in time for study. Important works such as Barbara Folkart's Le Conflit des enonciations: traduction et discours rapporte and translations of Brossard's Picture Theory, Daniel Poliquin's Obomsawin, and Marie Uguay's poems will be considered in a later article. However, this study has not attempted to rank translations. An effort has instead been made to discuss translation in terms of the broader parameters of cultural exchange and to outline general tendencies suggested by both the selection of books translated and the approaches used. Humanities Dionne Brand, editor. No Burden to Carry: Narratives of Black Working Women in Ontario, 1920s to 1950s Women's Press. 282. $17.95 Emilie Smith-Ayak, editor. The Granddaughters of Ixmucam! Women's Press. 256. $17.95 Exercising control over the definitions and creation of one's history can be a powerful means of establishing one's right to exercise power, speak with authority, or simply live in one's community with a sense of dignity. Definitions of the 'important' events, people, and themes in Canadian history have for many years been shaped by a white, male-dominated academic and cultural elite which has made and remade Canadian history in its own image. In the past twenty years, this image has been increasingly challenged by writers with different priorities, visions, and experiences: women, the First Nations, people of colour, for instance, have suggested that their history must be researched and acknowledged, and that Canadian history must be rewritten with attention to the power HUMANITIES 121 dynamics of race, gender, and class. These challenges have not always been received well: a recent backlash by a few prominent male historians with access to the mainstream media, for example, has made it clear that even the smallest challenge to traditional historiography and definitions of political and social 'importance' can be threatening to established elites. Dionne Brand's No Burden to Carry, an edited collection of oral narratives of Black working women in Ontario, extends this challenge even further, for in her introduction, she reminds us that the experiences of Black women have been marginalized, if not ignored, not only in traditional historical accounts, but also in the few histories of Black Canadians and in the women's history written to date. Her criticisms are well taken, and her book offers an important, initial attempt to rectify the absence ofwritten history about Black women's lives. In order to produce a new, more inclusive women's history, she also implies, one cannot simply take an 'additive' approach, tacking the category of 'race' or Black women onto existing themes and models. Rather, our aim should be to question all existing assumptions and paradigms and to encourage analysis of the interlocking and overarching dominations of race, class, and gender shaping the contours of all Canadian history. The recognition of the importance of history to one's sense of identity, pride, and place in society is recognized with great clarity by the women Brand and other interviewers spoke with in the process of producing No Burden to Carry. One woman, Violet Blackman, used the symbolism of statues to make her point. In Toronto, she tells her interviewer, a statue of a Black person, a 'soldier who gave his life to save his battalion,' is hidden away at 'Portland and Queen,' while the statues of white (and upper...