Strategic Plans for the Apocalypse: Critical Engagement with Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves

Groups of 4-5

Assignment Framework
Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves ends with a new beginning. While capitalist-driven climate change is leading to the decimation of settler nation states (and the rapid decline of the settler population), French and his family are full of hope for the futures of Indigenous peoples—particularly now that Isaac, who holds the power to destroy the new residential schools, has been reunified with Miigwans and French’s found family. The final words of the novel flourish with possibility:

I understood that as long as there are dreamers left, there will never be want for a dream. And I understood just what we could do for each other, just what we would do for the ebb and pull of the dream, the biggest dream that held us all.

Everything. (231)

Inasmuch as the future of Dimaline’s world will be defined by Indigenous knowledge, language, culture, and dreams (that which is incommensurable with the extractive machinery of settler colonialism), education will play a formative role for the resurgent community. We see glimmers of this already in the final chapters with the creation of the youth council, “Miigwanang”, which Slopper and Bullet form to “start passing on the teachings right away”:

We were desperate to craft more keys, to give shape to the kind of Indians that could not be robbed. It was hard, desperate work. We had to be careful we weren’t making things up, half remembered, half dreamed. (214)

For this assignment, your group is tasked with creating a 5-year strategic plan for a “university” for the Indigenous community Dimaline leaves us with at the end of The Marrow Thieves.[1]  Using lessons divined from close and careful reading (and re-reading) of the novel craft a vision for learning and teaching that responds directly to the hopes and desires of the novel’s Indigenous communities. At its very core, your strategic plan should be an “effort to enact a decentering of settler futures and a centering of Indigenous futurities” (Hunt 87), so think carefully about how you craft your vision, who you are crafting it for, and why you are crafting it. Answers to these questions should be rooted in the novel and supported with citations.

What is a Strategic Plan?
Strategic planning is an organizational activity used to establish and explicate a community’s priorities for the future. Strategic plans determine where energy and resources will be directed; they set common goals/outcomes; and they identify key stakeholders. A strategic plan is a document that establishes the foundational decisions and actions from which a community defines itself as well as who it serves, what it offers, and why it offers it, with an emphasis on the future. An effective strategic plan articulates where a community wants to go and the steps it will take to get there, but it also establishes measures for defining success and/or failure.

Secondary Sources
For this assignment you should familiarize yourself with the strategic plan formula. Aside from the UBC Strategic Plan 2018–2028 (link in syllabus), I also recommend consulting the 2018 draft of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan as a template for engagement.

Your strategic plan should also follow Eve Tuck’s desire-based research framework. No other secondary sources are required.

Assignment Checklist
Your Strategic Plan (5-years) should:

  • Have a title (and your university should have a name);
  • Have a clear and succinct introductory paragraph;
  • Identify each of the following: 1) vision; 2) purpose; and 3) values;
  • Identify and explicate 5 goals/objectives derived out of The Marrow Thieves
  • Be laid out in an accessible, easy-to-read format (you are free to use word
    processing or layout software of your choice). Copyright free Images are welcome;
  • Cite liberally from The Marrow Thieves using MLA formatting;
  • Cite from Eve Tuck’s “Suspending Damage”;
  • Include a separate works cited page following the 8th edition of the MLA style guide;
  • Be between 800-1200 words.

Grading Rubric
Strategic plans will be graded for:

  • Organization: Attention to logic and reasoning; unity of ideas and flow of presentation; fidelity to the The Marrow Thieves (does it match the tone, plot, setting, character development, ethics, etc. of the book?): 20 points
  • Content: Originality of thought and approach; appropriate evidence (i.e. quotations from novel); compatibility with the principles of Indigenous SF: 20 points
  • Development: Clarity and described feasibility of vision, purpose, values, and objectives; developed points with high quality and quantity support; demonstrated critical thinking: 20 points
  • Style: Matches the tone and scope of a strategic plan; creative use of sentence structure and coordination; effective use of rhetorical devices: 20 points
  • Professionalism: effective use of formatting and layout; attention to detail; free from distracting typos and other errors, content is taken seriously; follows instructions: 20 points

[1] Your group may choose to use a designation other than “university.”

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