“The experience of marginalized peoples has been a rich literary field in Canada, recording in fiction, nonfiction and poetry the stories of those who have not been able to speak for themselves. Works that reflect my own family’s lived experience as refugees crossing borders includes memoirists Janice Kulyk Keefer (Honey and Ashes), Modris Eckstein (Walking Since Daybreak) and Rudy Wiebe (Of This Earth) and most significantly, poets Anne Michaels and Czeslaw Milosz. As a child of ‘border crossings’ that have eventually led to homelands on the West Coast of Canada and as a student of literature, poet and memoirist, I have embraced what I consider my obligation as a ‘second generation witness’ in writing and publishing the memoir, The Steppes are the Colour of Sepia (Ronsdale, 2008) and the volume of poetry, Unspoken: An Inheritance of Words (Fern Hill, 2016).
Situated in the conflicting spaces between family and societal circles, particularly recording the historical and cultural past of traumatized Mennonite immigrant experience given refuge on the West Coast of Canada, I have engaged another form of ‘border crossing,’ privileging ‘words, unspoken’ as the linguistic utterances that arise from silence, memory and imagination in my own interpretive and creative capacities.
Rudy Wiebe: ‘You have done the history of your family proud…’ calls Unspoken ‘a beautiful book’.’
In a workshop, American memoirist Patricia Hampl suggested to Connie that ‘hers was a life’s work’ and to continue to create and record the universal themes of displacement and dispossession that are engendered in such particular family history.”