Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life
University of Regina Press / 24 October 2013

Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-296-0 Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life exposes the seamier side of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s National Policy. As the subtitle implies, this book offers startling new insights into the plight of First Nations people and the politics that caused it. Author James Daschuk is an assistant professor of health studies at the University of Regina. Focusing on the medical histories of First Nations people in western Canada, he shows how diseases like smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, and scarlet fever ravaged the native population. Daschuk’s reinterpretation of Canadian history is a rude awakening to those who believe Canadian attitudes towards aboriginal people were much more humane than their American counterparts. In detailing the politics of persecution and the systematic starvation of natives by withholding rations, Daschuk’s analytical narrative cuts through highly complex issues like a scalpel through skin. He shows that some Indian agents, appointed by the federal government to feed indigenous people, were not exactly men of strong character or high moral values. When…

Tomorrow It Will Be Fine
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 24 October 2013

Tomorrow It Will Be Fine by Joseph Vida Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Justin Dittrick ISBN 978-1-927371-34-3 It should be said at the outset that Joseph Vida’s Tomorrow It Will Be Fine is an outstanding achievement. It is entertaining and absorbing, socially conscious and sure-footed, linguistically extravagant and methodically plotted, sprawling and detailed, witty and trenchant. Its themes are so engrained in Canadian consciousness that the novel’s title can be read as prophetic of the eternal wish and frustrations of immigrants anywhere. Vida has a fine ear for the dialects of both the transplanted and native. His observation of social attitudes and tendencies and his depiction of idioms and jargons are spot on. Yet, the novel goes a little further than that, a little deeper. Few Canadian social novels read like a symphonic work. Joseph Vida’s does. At its heart, the work is a social novel set in Toronto, which is experiencing a boom after the Second World War. It’s protagonist, Endre, is a Hungarian immigrant seen at an anxious, but illuminating, time in his life. He is beginning to tire of working job after job without any reason to expect a better future. He has suffered…