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Aboriginal Canadian, Alberta, memoir Baby Boomer Generation, Canadian First Nations, Racism, Overcoming Shame, Post-Colonialism

White Mask
A Re-Celebration of My First Nation Heritage, A Memoir
by Wesley Shennan

Why are so many Natives, First Nations, Indians, Metis, Inuits, Aboriginals, Indigenous People, and Amerindians ashamed of whom they are? Where does this shame come from? Why does it exist today?

These questions are the underlying fabric of the memoir but are only alluded to in the first half of the story. About half way through, a flash back to the very first memory initiates the story behind the story, wherein shame is discussed and explored in narratives, interactions, quotations and teachings from childhood to middle age. The author’s re-celebration of his First Nation heritage evolves until he feels the same joy as at age 10 when he first learned of his ancestry. Up to five generations of First Nations have been traumatized by residential school and societal racism, but the grasp of shame is becoming weaker.

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Wesley Shennan is a descendent of a man who paddled 4,000 kilometres in a birch bark canoe across Canada in the 1790’s; and has ancestors who escaped from France wearing white shirts as Huguenots in the 1500’s. As a young man, colonial teaching and racial suppression made him simultaneously proud and ashamed of his heritage, but today he accepts and celebrates who he is. He lives in Kelowna, BC writing, singing and playing guitar, and then travelling to south America to extend his summers.


Wesley Shennan

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