MUENSTER — Award-winning Saskatoon-based writer Candace Savage awed a St. Peter’s College crowd with readings from two new pieces of published work.
St. Peter’s students and literary connoisseurs took in the Oct. 1 reading with Savage speaking on both her process and the inspiration for her recently published children’s book, Hello, Crow, and her newest book, Strangers in the House.
Hello, Crow, based on true events that Savage discovered, tells the story of Franny, a young girl who befriends a crow. The crow starts to bring her gifts as a sign of their friendship.
In Strangers in the House, Savage makes the walls of her Saskatoon home talk with research into the original owners, a French Canadian couple, Napoléon Sureau dit Blondin and his wife, and their lives within the big events of the turn of the century, including the Orange Order and the Ku Klux Klan having their presence in Saskatchewan.
“What I discovered was that English Canadian culture was in its foundation very badly infected with hatred of Catholics and suspicion of everybody else. This sense that being English speaking and Protestant made you superior to everyone else.”
From the educational system to the rise of social groupings, the Blondins had to disguise their “foreignness,” Savage said.
This attitude is still there in the modern world of the 21 century, and being suspicious of others has once again been given “extraordinary permission”, particularly through the politics in the United States, Savage said, adding that those attitudes rather alarmingly mirror those of the 1920s.
”There were a few women in Saskatchewan who were Catholic who were teaching in public schools in Catholic communities wearing their habits. This was seen as being a terrible thing. Now we have some people who are very alarmed because there are Muslim women wearing headscarves.”
Ironically, Savage said, laws have been passed in Quebec banning people from wearing turbans and headscarves in certain professions. French Canadians should be the last people to display this kind of prejudice since they know how it feels to have biases pushed on them.
“The attitude is still there and can be invoked so easily.”
Savage’s visit was sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, SaskCulture, and Saskatchewan Lotteries