The Story Eaters
University of New Brunswick
The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and its anthropology department had a significant role in constructing representations of indigeneity in the early twentieth century. Originally tasked with furthering knowledge of Canada’s natural resources, the GSC’s move to create an anthropology department in 1910 marked a new chapter in the national organization’s advancement of settler-colonialism. My creative research project, The Story Eaters, is a novel that explores the ongoing impact of anthropological archives and narratives on mixed-blood Indigenous people. The story moves back and forth between 1924 and 2024 as genealogist Leor St. Onge attempts to uncover what happened to a Geological Survey of Canada ethnographer who disappeared in 1924, shortly after photographing her great-grandparents in Sept-Îles, Québec. As she grapples with a series of strange encounters and a frustrating lack of answers in the archives, she is forced to find a different way to make sense of the past. In exploring archival research and the history of anthropology in Canada, the novel confronts the following questions: What impact do anthropological ideas of authenticity have on mixed-blood indigenous identity? How does colonization shape the archival records available? And how do the resulting archival gaps and failings influence the stories we tell ourselves about history and our relation to it?