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English Language Arts A30

In Search for April Raintree

By Beatrice Cullen

Name: ___________________________________

Marking Scheme:

Introduction: /20

Part One: /20

Part Two: /10

Midterm Test: /20

Part Three: /40

Part Four: /10

Final Projects:

Looking Back: /10

Creative/Commentary /20

Total Marks for April Raintree Novel Study: 150 Marks

Beatrice Mosionier, also known as Beatrice Culleton was born in St. Boniface, Manitoba on August 27, 1949. When she was three years old, she became a ward of the Children's Aid Society. She grew up in foster homes, mostly away from her real parents and people. There were several years however, when Beatrice lived with her older sisters, two of which committed suicide later in life. Beatrice has written novels such as April Raintree, In Search of April Raintree, and a children's book called Spirit of the White Bison. Ms. Culleton has made great strides in promoting awareness of some of the struggles that the Métis peoples have faced.

Review by Lillian Turner (1985)

This revision of In Search of April Raintree was requested by the native education branch of Manitoba Education along with a teacher's guide, not seen by this reviewer. Culleton, herself a Métis who suffered the trauma of family separation, foster homes, and the suicides of two older sisters, has written an honest, poignant account of the toll exacted by poverty, alcoholism, prostitution, suicide, prejudice, and discrimination on the human spirit, and perhaps more importantly, the craving for self-identity of the native person lost in an urban environment.

Culleton has made April Raintree the spokesperson for the Métis. April and her younger sister Cheryl, when only six and four years old, were taken from their parents by the Children's Aid Society, first to a convent orphanage, and then to various foster homes. Even though often separated, they always thought about and wrote to each other. April was the white Métis, while Cheryl was totally Indian in appearance. Both children excelled in school, but while April dreamed of integrating into the white society, Cheryl dreamed of becoming a social worker finding her parents, rebuilding the family, and eventually helping children like herself.

Perhaps because of the immediacy of the first-person narrative, the reader is inevitably drawn into the controversy regarding attitudinal ethics and the question of foster homes and adoption of native children. April Raintree is an important addition to the supplementary reading list for native studies, Canadian family, and people in society courses, as well as thematic units in Canadian literature.

Part One: Chapters 1-7 /20 Due: ___________________________

  1. Who were the members of April’s family, and where did they live? /2

  1. Why do you think that people were rude to April’s mother?

  1. The narrator introduces many stereotypes regarding First Nations peoples. These biases and assumptions seem to be already internalized by April even though she is only six years old. Discuss how April’s feelings might impact on her future choices and identity. /3

  1. Compare April’s upbringing at the Dions with that of the DeRosiers. /4

  1. How does April feel about her Indian ancestry and why do you think this? /2

  1. Why was grade nine the worst school year April ever had? /2

  1. These chapters focus on the diverse experiences and developing identities of both April and Cheryl as they grow up in foster homes. The question of parents’ rights to their child’s health and well-being foreman important sub-theme in the novel. Compare Cheryl and April’s foster-home situations, and consider how the experiences of each shape her own views about her personal and cultural identity. /6

Part Two: Chapters 8-10 /10 Due: ___________________________

  1. What offensive remarks was Cheryl saying to April? What did April say to defend herself? /3

  1. What were some of the patronizing remarks the women at the party made? Do you think that they meant to be racists? Were they? /3

  1. These chapters focus on life after foster care. April chooses a marriage that promises economic and social security. Cheryl becomes actively involved with the Friendship Centre to reach out to other Aboriginal youth who need help to find their way. Cheryl’s activism in support of First Nations and Métis peoples is often regarded as a positive outcome of her early introduction to Aboriginal issues through her education. From your experience and knowledge, would you say that her education has been adequate? How has the representation of Aboriginal issues in school changed? What do you think is still needed to provide an unbiased portrayal of Aboriginal history and culture? Please ensure you answer all of the questions! /4

Midterm Test on April Raintree: 20 marks Date: __________________________

If you have read up to this point, you will do fine. (Paragraph Responses)

Part Three: Chapters 11-14 /40 Due: ___________________________

  1. Describe the conversation April had with her sister at the hospital. What has her sister revealed? /2

  1. Why do you think the rapists referred to April as a squaw? /2

  1. How will this tragic event affect her life? /3

  1. Find out a minimum of 7 facts for each of the following court cases. Remember that you want FACTS, so please do not use Wikipedia or sites “dedicated” to the victims unless you are sure your information is right. There are a lot of opinions surrounding these cases, so read a variety of texts. Be sure you discuss the outcome of the trial within your facts. /21

  1. Helen Betty Osborne

  1. Pamela George Murder Trial

  1. Tisdale Rape Case

  1. The sexual assault scene is a graphic portrayal of violence against women. Violence against Aboriginal women, in particular, continues to be a pervasive issue. Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women ( tells the stories of nine Aboriginal women who have been raped and murdered. The website states “…young Indigenous women are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as the result of violence… Indigenous women have long struggled to draw attention to violence within their own families and communities. Canadian police and public officials have also long been aware of a pattern of racist violence against Indigenous women in Canadian cities – but have done little to prevent it.” Here is an important question to guide thinking through this chapter in the story: Some people argue that the sexual assault scene should be cut from the novel, especially for young readers. Others argue that the scene is necessary to the overall vision of the text. What position do you agree with and why? /6

  1. Reflect on Cheryl’s message and its importance in relation to our present-day environmental issues. What connections do you see between how Aboriginal peoples have been treated, both past and present, and the detrimental factors affecting our current environmental situation? /6

Just a side note: The Elders Are Watching, by David Bouchard and Roy Henry Vickers, is a message of concern from Aboriginal leaders of the past and a plea to respect the natural treasures of the environment. If you ever have the opportunity, take a look at this picture book and perhaps compare Cheryl’s message to the message of this picture book and/or other texts that address environmental issues and responsibility.

Part Four: Chapters 15- 17 /10 Due: ___________________________

  1. Despite having a few flaws, how does Roger help April realize that she is not solving her internal conflict?

  1. Why does Cheryl seem to resent April? /2

  1. Cheryl is drinking because she is trying to mask the pain. What has hurt her the most and how/why? /4

  1. What do we learn about Cheryl? Why do you think she does this?

  1. In Chapter 8, Cheryl makes a prediction that seems to come true in this chapter. What is it?

  1. Who is Henry Lee, and who will raise him?

Final Assignments:

  1. Looking Back: Take a look back at your midterm test. Who did you write about? If I were to give you the same assignment now, would you write about another character or keep your views the same? Explain how your choice may have changed, and if it did not, explain why you kept your choice the same. Please answer this question in detail, and type up a half a page written response explaining your answer.

You may choose between the two assignments. You may do the commentary or the creative interpretation.

  1. Commentary (Ideas & Content Rubric – 20 marks) Write a half page per question for the commentary on this literary selection, addressing the following:

  • You must make reference to the ending of the novel and assess your feelings toward the characters involved when all is said and done.

  • What did you learn from this selection? Did it broaden your perspective in any way?

  • Do you believe this literary work is of value? Why or why not? Should I continue to offer it?

The purpose of your writing is to make you stop and think about what you have read. Whatever your perspective, your personal feelings and connections while reading the novel are what constitute the heart and soul of a reader response philosophy to the literature. Do not simply write a summary of the literature. Length: 1 ½ - 2 pages (double spaced and typed)

  1. Creative Interpretation (Creative Writing Rubric – 20 marks)April Raintree, although fiction, is clearly born out of the life experiences of the author; this is why it is so compelling. Read the novel, and then write a creative interpretation response and a commentary on the selection.

You may comment upon:

  • one of the experiences of the protagonist

  • the experience of another character of your choice within the novel, and that character’s reactions to it

  • your own reaction in a similar situation, either by imagining yourself in a particular situation introduced in the novel, or relating a similar experience that you have lived and describing your response to that situation

  • a particular event which occurred

  • any issues raised in the novel - social issues , family issues, school issues, racial issues, etc.

  • Your format options are:

  • a letter or diary entry from the perspective of one of the characters, five years in the future

  • a newspaper editorial commenting upon one of the issues presented in the novel

  • a full length poem or song

Whatever format you decide upon, create a title for your creative interpretation, and include:

  • An introductory statement indicating your perspective and writing style.


  • In this entry, I will be writing about a character’s reaction to a situation, in the form of a personal diary entry.

  • In this entry, I will be commenting upon the issue raised regarding _______, in the form of a newspaper editorial.

A brief reference to the situation on which you will be commenting, thus providing a context for the response.
Ideas & Content Rubric


  • Ideas are exceptionally clear, focused and captivating. Main ideas have very strong support characterized by rich and unusual detail.

* * *


  • Ideas are clear, focused, interesting and hold the reader’s attention throughout. Main ideas are developed by appropriate and interesting supporting detail.

* * *

  • Details are relevant and support the main idea well

  • Development/exploration is thorough and thoughtful

  • Results are effective


  • Ideas are clear, focused and easily understandable. Supporting detail may be limited but is adequate.

* * *

  • Details are relevant, but may be overly general or limited

  • Development/exploration is apparent but common

  • Results are somewhat effective


  • Ideas are overly broad or somewhat unclear or simplistic, and supporting detail is limited and/or inadequate.

* * *

  • Details may be irrelevant and are limited in scope

  • Development/exploration is superficial

  • Results may not be effective


  • Ideas are unclear or somewhat simplistic, or development and supporting detail are minimal.

* * *

  • Details are often irrelevant and are insufficient

  • Development/exploration is minimal

  • Results are largely ineffective


  • Ideas are lacking or overly simplistic, or there are not enough or no supporting details to develop the main idea.

* * *

  • Details are irrelevant, unclear and/or confusing

  • Development/exploration is minimal or non-existent

  • Results? What results?

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