Eric Plamondon’s novel “Taquan” is much more than a crime thriller: in it the author talks about the world of myjmac and the dark sides of Aboriginal Canadian politics.
Written by Monica Groch
Books / references discussed
It’s June 11, 1981. It is a perfectly normal day that myjmajac, who lived by fishing for salmon thousands of years ago, tossed their nets again. And a very special day for Océane, because it’s her fifteenth birthday after all. But not only for this reason, today it will burn between her and the other Myjmaq members: when Ausen and her schoolmates take the school bus toward the reserve, the car stops at the bridge. From there you can watch the police seize fishing nets in a brutal raid. Of course the fishermen do not accept this without resistance, and many of them have been arrested and there are even deaths. But that’s not all: Shortly thereafter, Osen is found critically injured in the woods by ex-ranger Ives Locklear after she was raped multiple times by police officers.
Leclerc, who left his service because he could not stand how harassed the mijmq in their tribal autonomous lands, wanted to help the injured and traumatized girl. He decides to investigate the perpetrators of his own accord. He receives support from Mi’gmaq William, who lives as a hermit in the woods, and from his ex-girlfriend Caroline, a disaffected young teacher from France. Whenever the three investigate, they discover a network in which the regional police also have a hand, and discover that Ausen is still in great danger …
Such is the crime thriller plot Piety Quickly painted. But the novel, whose background is based on the actual events of the so-called “Salmon Raid” in 1981, despite its short summary – only 200 pages – provides profound insights into the current and historical living conditions of the mijjam as well as their culture from thousands of years ago. Author Eric Plamondon, himself a native of Quebec, relates this to the history of colonialism in eastern Canada and the struggle for the cultural and political independence of the “First Nations” that the expansion of Canada had stabilized before the colonialists claimed control for themselves and for them. Torn from the living space.
Given the variety of themes, it is not surprising that the novel does not follow a strict narrative style. Instead, various interpretations are inserted into the crime story such as collage. In addition to short chapters on the history of Quebec and discrimination against indigenous people, there are documentaries on the topic of salmon fishing as well as reflections on Canadian domestic politics or the myths and stories of myjmaq. Interestingly, one does not find these entries disturbing, even though they do not present a crime story, as the author provides such multifaceted insights into Canadian politics in the 1980s and the socioeconomic status of Indigenous peoples.
However, with much different content, character design is way too much. They act as “staff” who represent the various aspects of the novel, not as independent characters. The reader hardly learns anything about his inner workings; Océane in particular remains passive and in her role as a victim from start to finish, so her self-empowerment doesn’t necessarily seem to be understood in the end. But this is not of much importance, because Plamondon knows how to break the boundaries of criminal imagination and play with popular narratives that do not put it at risk of endangering the reader’s interest. A fun and spunky novel that we hope more will follow.