Monday, April 23, 2018

Reader's Diary #1801- Katherena Vermette: Half as Much

Katherena Vermette's "Half as Much" is a story about an elderly Métis man named Gus who reflects back on his life and in doing so, illustrates the unofficial status of many Métis in Canada. As he's doing so, it's apparent that he's been treated, at best, as a 2nd class citizen. In the present day, the news media is calling it a historic occasion that the Métis are now, according to Canadian law, to be treated as Indians. After a conversation with his nephew, it would seem that Gus is a little more cynical about it, knowing I suppose, that this acknowledgement doesn't exactly elevate them in the racist eyes of colonialist society.

As important as this message is, and as powerful as Vermette makes it, I enjoyed other themes and aspects of the story almost as much. I liked the contrast between, for instance, the generations and the blue-collared Gus and the nephew scholar. I was amused that despite the nephew's PhD for instance, Gus thought of him as lazy. I also thought it was pretty accurate the way she describes the treatment of senior citizens; the patronizing. I wonder if it's a comparison to the way many whites treat Métis of any age.

If it all sounds bleak, there is, at least, a promise of spring at the end.

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