The Red Files

Lisa Bird-Wilson's collection of poetry reflects on the legacy of the residential school system and the fragmentation of families.

Lisa Bird-Wilson

Inspired by family and archival sources, Lisa Bird-Wilson assembles scraps of a history torn apart by colonial violence. This collection takes its name from the federal government's complex organizational structure of residential schools archives, which are divided into "black files" and "red files." In vignettes as clear as glass beads, her poems offer affection to generations of children whose presence within the historic record is ghostlike, anonymous and ephemeral. 

Bird-Wilson also explores the larger political context driving the mechanisms that tore apart families and cultures, including the Sixties Scoop. It depicts moments of resistance, both personal and political, as well as official attempts at reconciliation. The Red Files concludes with a fierce hopefulness, embracing the various types of love that can begin to heal the traumas inflicted by a legacy of violence. (From Nightwood Editions)

Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Métis and nêhiyaw writer who lives in Saskatchewan. She is also the author of the short story collection Just Pretending, the nonfiction book An Institute of Our Own and the novel Probably Ruby.

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