rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

On Lee Maracle’s 'Yin Chin'

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

This article is part of the Babble Book Club's ongoing conversation about Canadian short stories. Join the conversation in the Babble Book Lounge by contributing your favourite Canadian short stories and short story collections and discussing the implications of the current Canadian short story canon. The final discussion will take place Tuesday November 6,  7:30 p.m. EST in the Babble Book Lounge.

Lee Maracle's "Yin Chin" was one of my favourites when I first began to teach First Nations literature at University of British Columbia in 1995. Maracle's voice is unmistakably hers -- clear, uncompromising, no bullshit. Her diction varies from the intellectual to the street-wise in seconds. This story is about the connections between the Chinese and First Nations communities in Vancouver's Chinatown, as well as about the ways in which racism divided them. It is dedicated to SKY Lee and Jim Wong-Chu, evidence that she has overcome the racist nonsense she absorbed as a child about Chinese people -- that old Chinese men kidnapped little children, for example. However, it took a long time: she recounts her realization: "I have lived in the same neighbourhood as Chinese people for 22 years now and don't know a single Chinese person." The story is an early example of what I call "story theory," although I have no idea if Maracle would accept that term or classification. It grounds contemporary fiction in oracy and aims to engage readers in considering what they might learn from it, about how the "unkind world" has "schooled us in ignorance." Story theory is also grounded in the autobiographical, modeling a way in which we can learn from everyday experience if we keep paying attention like the "little girl of noble heart" in the story. Another example of story theory is Warren Cariou's "Dances with Rigoureau" (in Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations, edited by Deanna Reder and Linda Morra, Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2010). I have several other examples on my list, but I’ll leave it for you to think of them.

Margery Fee is the editor of the literary journal Canadian Literature and professor of English at The University of British Columbia, where she teaches Canadian, Aboriginal and postcolonial literature.

Canadian Literature 124/25 (Spring/Summer 1990) and Native Writers and Canadian Writing, Ed. W.H. New. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 1990.

Sojourner’s Truth and Other Stories. Vancouver: Press Gang, 1990.

Sojourners and Sundogs: First Nations Fiction. Vancouver: Raincoast and Pressgang, 2002.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.