The People and the Text website launched to a full room in a special Congress 2018 joint session of ACCUTE and the Indigenous Literary Studies Association at First Nations University of Canada.
Led by Simon Fraser University professor Dr. Deanna Reder, The People and the Text: Indigenous Writing in Northern North America to 1992 is collecting and studying one of the most neglected literary archives in English Canada. The project will produce an annotated bibliography of all relevant writing and critical resources up to the year 1992, including preliminary work in French; when such distribution is legal and in keeping with Indigenous ethics and protocols it will make the original literary texts openly accessible. It will produce the most comprehensive literary history of the period and new ways of training literary scholars by consulting and working collaboratively with specific Indigenous communities.
The launch was accompanied by the revelation that the project had recovered an important portion of Maria Campbell's landmark memoir Halfbreed, believed by the author to have been lost after it was excised from the text of the novel by the publisher, McClelland and Stewart, against her will. The missing portion of the text recounts the rape of the teenage Campbell by an RCMP officer, and it was discovered by doctoral student Alix Shield while doing research for The People and the Text. The missing portion of the text and an account of its significance was published by the academic journal Canadian Literature and covered by mainstream media including in an interview the Deanna Reder on CBC radio.