Statement of Purpose
The New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English (NBLCE) is designed with a wide range of users in mind: high school students and teachers, university students and professors, and general readers who want to sample or immerse themselves in a reading program of New Brunswick literature. The NBLCE is therefore both a guided reading tool and a conventional curriculum.
Our primary goal is to introduce readers to the celebrated history of New Brunswick literature. Our secondary goal is to enhance knowledge of New Brunswick and what it has contributed culturally to Canada and the world. That students and citizens of the province do not know their own literature is a problem that has existed for a long time. In the colonial world in which New Brunswickers lived for centuries, writers from other empires were considered more important. And today, with globalism pressing upon us, some might wonder why a New Brunswick literature curriculum is important at all.
It is important because we live in multiple worlds, our own New Brunswick world often being the first or most formative we encounter. The experience of that first encounter provides the seeds for our identity, influencing the way we grow, respond to others, and meet the larger world. Reading the literature of our formative place enables us to recognize those processes of growth and identification. “The greater our knowledge,” said A.G. Bailey in his introduction to the first comprehensive history of education in New Brunswick (Katherine MacNaughton 1946), “the more effectively may we control the conditions that mould our lives” (iv). The same is true today.
Indigenous and Acadian Literatures
Because the NBLCE is an English-language resource, we have included only a sampling of the literatures of First Nations and Acadie. Both of those literatures are sourced in languages other than English, and both are presented here in English translation. Showcasing those literatures in English translation serves a number of purposes. It recognizes the importance and vibrancy of Indigenous and Acadian populations in the province; it acknowledges that each has achieved excellence in cultivating and preserving cultural enterprise; and it reaches across the province’s divides to build bridges between different language communities that will be vital for our future. Finally, it recognizes that a more equitable representation of New Brunswick’s diversity is still a work in progress.
Identity through Literature
Examining identity through the literatures of diverse communities emphasizes the multiple perspectives that shape our cultural memory. New Brunswick’s literatures highlight the ways in which seemingly isolated or distant political and social events have had an impact on the lives of individuals today. What, for example, were the effects of the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, and how does that history of disenfranchisement continue to affect Acadians today? How did European colonialism influence the way that Indigenous stories were told and continue to be told? How did Canadian Confederation change the lives, for better and worse, of ordinary New Brunswickers? How have New Brunswickers been affected by broad socio-economic trends like rural population decline, outmigration, and deindustrialization? What was it like to be a New Brunswicker working in a lumber camp in the nineteenth century or to live through the Great War? Answers to those and many other questions can be found in the province’s rich bodies of literature.
Reading our literature provides us with the self-knowledge to contribute meaningfully to our society. A confident and productive population is aware of its histories. A healthy and happy citizenry takes pride in its heritage. New Brunswick literature shows us where we've come from, who we are, and how we are likely to meet the future. It is with the aim of meeting that future that the NBLCE is offered.