Coming Home through Grandmother Rosa’s Story: Basil Johnston’s Crazy Dave


This essay focuses on Basil Johnston’s Crazy Dave, a narrative which tells of Johnston’s disconnection from his Anishinaubae culture and his relationship with his paternal grandmother Rosa McLeod and with his uncle David McLeod. My essay examines the ways in which Grandmother Rosa initiates the process of mental decolonization by transmitting cultural knowledge to Johnston who in turn uses this knowledge to rebuild his identity, reconceptualize his understanding of place, and return home. Employing William Bevis’ “homing in” model, Anthony Paul Kerby’s identity formation analysis, Joseph E. Couture’s examination of the role of Elders, and Neal McLeod’s “coming home [as] hermeneutical act” model, the paper demonstrates how, by narrating Grandmother Rosa’s life story, Johnston successfully journeys from ignorance to knowledge, appreciating how his dislocation and alienation originated in the past, and how his removal to residential school many years before was part of a larger history of colonization.

This article “Coming Home through Grandmother Rosa’s Story: Basil Johnston’s Crazy Dave” originally appeared in Indigenous Focus. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 215 (Winter 2012): 54-68.

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