An Analysis Of Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road

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There is a common belief that First Nations people have it easy: getting money from the government, free post-secondary education, and being exempt from certain taxes. Despite this, Aboriginals have much higher unemployment rates, lower life expectancies, and higher substance abuse rates (Bombay, Matheson, & Anisman, 2009, 7). As a result of colonization, First Nations’ resources were depleted, their land was stolen, and their cultures and identities were stripped from them. All of this was done in an attempt to civilize Aboriginal people; to assimilate them into white European culture. Very early on, settlers regarded Aboriginals as inferior to them and treated them accordingly. Children were taken from their families and forced into residential schools. Despite all of this, during the First World War many Aboriginal men volunteered to fight with the Canadian army. In Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden writes about the atrocities that residential school survivors endured not only in those schools, but fighting for the army in WWI. Boyden introduces three Cree characters: Elijah, Xavier, and Niska. Each one of these characters endured their own traumas and each chose their own ways to cope. Unfortunately, due to the extremely painful nature of both their physical and psychological wounds, these characters turn to different substances introduced to them by the settlers to cope. The effects from these traumas can be seen still in today’s generations of First Nations people.

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