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U of R’s newest Banting Postdoctoral Fellow to explore violence against Indigenous women and girls in residential schools

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 19, 2020 9:00 a.m.

Marie-Eve Bradette is the University of Regina’s newest Banting Postdoctoral Fellow.
Marie-Eve Bradette is the University of Regina’s newest Banting Postdoctoral Fellow. Photo: Benoît Mallette

The University of Regina welcomes Marie-Eve Bradette, the University’s newest Banting Postdoctoral Fellow

Funded by the federal government through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and totalling $70,000 per year for two years, Bradette’s postdoctoral research is titled, Reclaiming Truth, Agency, and Affectivity through Writing: Reading the Trauma Legacy in Indigenous Women’s Residential School Literature. 

“My postdoctoral research will explore the violence inflicted on Indigenous cultures, bodies, minds, and spirits in residential schools, with a focus on the gendered violence endured by Indigenous women and girls,” says Bradette, a settler scholar who conducted her doctoral research at the Université de Montréal. 

Bradette says that since the 1900s, and with a resurgence since the 1970s, Indigenous women have narrated their residential school experiences through autobiographies, novels, drama, and poetry. 

“Women’s residential school literature occupies a unique but under-researched field of Indigenous literatures,” explains Bradette. “I intend to addresses this gap in scholarship while reclaiming, redressing, and reconstructing agency, which was often denied to Indigenous women and girls during their time in Indian residential schools.” 

Using residential school narratives as trauma literature, she says she will ask questions such as: What is unique about the experiences of girls in residential schools? How do the broader mechanisms of colonial violence affect their stories? What do representations of violence suffered by young girls in residential school narratives reveal? To what end? How do literary representations of the intergenerational legacies of trauma intersect with gender? Finally, what can writing do to reclaim and reinforce the strength of Indigenous women? 

“As a Francophone scholar, I hope to also do the crucial work of translating residential school narratives into French, which, until now, has only been done for a limited number of texts,” says Bradette.

Dr. Kathleen Mcnutt, Vice-President (Research), says the University’s research community is excited to welcome Bradette to the U of R. 

“Dr. Bradette’s work will be critical in helping to acknowledge and fill some of the gaps that exist and persist in our knowledge about the truths of Canada’s residential schools,” says McNutt, who adds that the University’s new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, All Our Relations, commits the University to taking significant action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action, and to strengthening connections with its past, present, and future.   

Bradette, who will work with the U of R’s Dr. Michelle Coupal, Canada Research Chair in Truth, Reconciliation, and Indigenous Literatures, says she’s excited about pursuing her research program at the University of Regina and working with Coupal who she says is “a remarkable scholar and mentor.”

“This research project promises to be a timely and necessary intervention into the larger body of scholarship on residential school literature in Canada, which—and this is the real importance of Bradette’s work—has not yet sustained a focus on gender,” says Coupal.

Coupal adds that she is “keen to buttress, support, and collaborate with this accomplished francophone scholar as she pursues research directions that are fully entwined with my own research agenda and the University of Regina’s new strategic plan. To work on the particularities of women’s residential school literature is to engage deeply with literatures of truth, reconciliation, and Indigenous resurgence.”

Bradette’s fellowship will begin in the fall 2020 term. However, due to the pandemic, she will work remotely from Montreal for most of the first year, during which time she will conduct interviews with Francophone Indigenous writers in that city. She plans to move to Regina in the summer of 2021 for the entire second year of her postdoctoral fellowship.

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships are awarded to the very best and brightest postdoctoral fellows across Canada and internationally. The program works to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, develop leadership potential, and position recipients for success as research leaders of tomorrow.

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