Nobody Cries at Bingo by Dawn Dumont
Author and narrator Dawn Dumont paints a picture which goes beyond many cultural stereotypes. She talks about drinking and bingo and the toughness needed to deal with bullying by the other natives and also by her white peers. Readers see reserves in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan from the native point of view. There is a sense of how distanced these are, both literally and figuratively, from non-natives; yet, at the same time Dumont reveals how close-knit many families are, and she shows her readers that, despite cultural differences, natives and whites are really quite similar. Dawn has the same dreams, problems and aspirations as any other teenage girl.
Dumont's book is something between a novel and a memoir since the author was born and raised on the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan. As in any novel, each chapter adds to readers' understanding of the main characters, and yet each chapter can stand on its own as a short essay. Readers will appreciate Dumont's dry sense of humour throughout since Dumont undoubtedly 'tells it like it is' but always with her own brand of somewhat impertinent humour. In a classroom or book club setting, Nobody Cries at Bingo would be an excellent springboard for a discussion about a wide variety of native issues and what can be done to promote understanding between natives and non-natives. Dumont's book approaches the issues in a manner which is both straightforward and humorous and perhaps suggests this is a good way for all of us to begin such a conversation.
Why we chose this book: As we observe the results of racism in the United States it is important to understand the roots and elements of racism that are experienced in Canada. Dawn Dumont's book provides a window into some of the daily experiences of racism and marginalization that many Indigenous people in Canada Experience.
Food for Thought:
1. How does Dumont use humor when describing difficult experiences in her life?
2. What stereotypes does she challenge?
3. What challenges does she face that are inter-generational in nature?
4. How has racism shaped her life?
*There are several digital copies of this book at the Winnipeg Public Library.