In my attempt to understand better postcolonialism in a Canadian context, I started reading the essays in Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism, a collection edited by Cynthia Sugars.  This book had been recommended to me as a good introduction to Canadian postcolonialism, which it indeed is.

In her introduction, Cynthia Sugars highlights the “impossibility . . . of settling on any one definition of postcolonialism in a Canadian context” (xiii).  She emphasises some of the form this postcolonialism can take, in particular as the result of American/English imperialism, but also from an indigenous perspectives.  This collection is an attempt at representing these various perspectives.

All essays have been previously published but are, here, regrouped according to their themes or perspectives: native perspective for instance, but also pedagogical ones.  It highlights how this contentious debate has evolved, with some essays being actual response to other essays, thus enabling the reader to create a more complete picture of the complex question of postcolonialism in Canada.

One will find essays by theorists, such as Northrop Frye, Linda Hutcheon and Diana Brydon, but also by writers, such as Robert Kroetsch, Thomas King or Lee Maracle.  Some of these essays might be more accessible than others, but I find that the way the collection is conceived helped for a better understanding of the difficult concepts.

Beginning with a consideration of postcolonialism in a Commonwealth context, the collection then moves to various attempts at defining postcolonialism in a Canadian context.  The essays thus highlight how postcolonialism in Canada might be the result of British imperialism, but also emphasise the question of Canada as a country in the periphery of the United States.  Indigenous questions are also examined in details and the essays offer an array of views on the topic.

I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in understanding better this controversial issue.  You might actually have already encountered some of these essays, but they act here as a dialogue.