Crossing Canadian Cultural Borders: A study of the Aboriginal/White Stereotypical Relations in George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

Maram M. Samman


This paper traces the intercultural journey of a young Aboriginal girl into the hegemonic white society. Rita Joe crossed the imaginary border that separates her reserve from the other Canadian society living in the urban developed city. Through this play, George Ryga aims at achieving liberation and social equality for the Aboriginals who are considered a colonized minority in their land. The research illustrates how Ryga represented his personal version of the colonial Aboriginal history to provide an empowering body narrative that supports their identity in the present and resists the erosion of their culture and tradition. The play makes very strong statements to preserve the family, history and local heritage against this forced assimilation. It tells the truth as its playwright saw it. The play is about the trail of Rita Joe after she moved from her reserve in pursuit of the illusion of the city where she thought she would find freedom and social equality. In fact the audience and the readers are all on trial. Ryga is pointing fingers at everyone who is responsible for the plights of the Aboriginals as it is clear in the play. He questions the Whites’ stereotypical stand against the Aboriginals. The play is a direct criticism of the political, social and cultural systems in Canada. The paper reveals Aboriginals' acts of opposition to racism, assimilation and colonization as represented in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe


Aboriginals: assimilation: Canadian: Crossing: cultural borders: George Ryga

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