UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Seeking aboriginal mothers : repairing colonial disruptions through Marie Clements' the unnatural and accidental women Johnston, Laura Lynne


Attempting to understand mainstream dismissal and degradation of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, this thesis investigates Marie Clements’ The Unnatural and Accidental Women. Retelling the story of Gilbert Paul Jordan’s murder of ten women, predominantly Aboriginal, from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, The Unnatural and Accidental Women exposes racist media representations that tell little of the women, emphasizinig instead their high levels of alcohol and Aboriginal background. Perpetuating stereotypes of Aboriginal women as promiscuous and alcoholic, such representations overlook Jordan’s methods of poisoning his victims with alcohol. Central to this thesis is the mother/daughter relationship within the play. Abandoned by her mother at age four, Rebecca begins to search for her mother on the drug-addiction riddles streets of Vancouver’s downtown “Skid Row.” Asking the question: Why do high numbers of Aboriginal women leave their families to live impoverished and often addicted lives full of danger and isolation?, this thesis explores governmental policies disenfranchising Aboriginal women and enforcing the removal Aboriginal children into residential schools and white foster homes. Within this context, this thesis argues that Aunt Shadie acts as a maternal metaphor, reflecting Aboriginal philosophies that honour the significance of the mother/child bond. Clements’ play can be argued to offer a maternal counter-narrative to dominant discourses of Aboriginal womanhood.

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