Deathscapes

Girls and Children: Stages of Institutional Violence 4i - April Raintree

Deathscapes

In search of April Raintree

Book cover shows two young girls, one who is a bit taller than the other, holding hands which their backs facing the camera. They look towards a lake. Above them the author and title of the book are written: Beatrice Mosionier. In Search of April Raintree. 25th Anniversary Edition'.

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In search of April Raintree, by Métis author Beatrice Mosionier, depicts the lives of two Métis sisters – April and Cheryl – who are removed from their parents at a young age, separated and placed in foster care. It illustrates the intersections between state care, addiction, suicide and gendered violence, while addressing issues around loss of culture, internalised racism, shame and identity. The protagonist April grows up in the care of white foster families, some of whom are abusive and instill in her a deep sense of shame of her Indigenous identity. As a result, she comes to perceive Aboriginality as intrinsically linked to degeneracy and whiteness as a space of civility, which she resolves to inhabit by ‘passing for white’. Her sister Cheryl, whose body is visibly racialised conversely embraces her Indigenous identity and insightfully observes that April sees the world and herself “through white man’s eyes”. One day April is mistaken for her sister and targeted by three white men, who force her into a car and subject her to extreme sexual violence and physical degradation. The slurs that they hurl at her clearly mark that this violent act is both gendered and racialised. From this traumatic event emerges the realisation that she was both misrecognized and recognized as a “rightful target” (Hanson, 2012). What follows is a process of reconciling her own identity and coming to terms with the lethal impacts of the slow violence visited upon her family and community.

While April Raintree is a fictional character, her story draws upon the author’s personal experiences and has resonated with many other Indigenous women. As the author stated, ‘People would come up to me and tell me that I had written their story.’


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