Children of the Broken Treaty

Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream by Charlie Angus Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $27.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-401-8 Unbelievable. Appalling. Horrific. These are adjectives that could be used to describe the contents of Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream. This book will make readers feel uncomfortable. It’s designed to have that effect. Discomfort is the first step to justice, and justice is the first step to recovery and reconciliation. Member of Parliament Charlie Angus pleads throughout his book that Canada’s treatment of Aboriginals is a national shame. Those most severely affected are the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, part of Treaty 9 territory. Many homes are without running water, plumbing, or electricity. Even when water is available, it often has to be boiled. When the sewage station fails, sewers overflow. Educational opportunities are lacking. Suicides are at epidemic proportions. Angus provides an historical overview of the signing of Treaty 9 in 1910. Among its provisions is a promise to provide Aboriginals with proper education. The Attawapiskat school is infected with black mould and the ground under it swollen with toxins. When it’s torn…

Reinvesting in Families

Reinvesting in Families by Dorothy Badry, Don Fuchs, H. Monty Montgomery, and Sharon McKay, eds. Published by University of Regina Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $39.95 ISBN 978-0-888977-352-3 Healthy families make healthy communities. The inverse is also true: when families struggle, the community suffers. Reinvesting in Families: Strengthening Child Welfare Practice for a Brighter Future, a collection of research edited by Dorothy Badry and colleagues, argues that on the prairies we need new, evidence-based social work practices to help families and communities be strong and healthy. The book takes a big step toward identifying practices that work and asking questions about future improvements. Reinvesting in Families is part of a series developed by the Prairie Child Welfare Consortium (PCWC). The University of Regina was a founding member of PCWC, whose goal is “to share information, conduct research, and consult, collaborate, and partner … to enhance and strengthen child welfare service delivery, education, and training.” Several of the contributors to this book point out that Aboriginal children and families are particularly affected by social services and social policies. They call for new, “innovative programs based on Indigenous knowledge and methods.” Changing the way social work is done — not only by…

Rogues and Rebels

Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Canada’s West by Brian Brennan Published by University of Regina Press Review by Kris Brandhagen $24.95 9780889773981 Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Canada’s West by Brian Brennan provides a survey of some famous, notorious, and little known people who contributed to Canadian history. In Brennan’s profile of Margaret “Ma” Murray (1888-1982), the reader can tell that he is pleased with his subject. As a young lady, Margaret did the books for a saddle company in Kansas City, where she “amused herself by including personal notes with the saddles being shipped to Alberta.” When “some of the cowboys replied and sent photographs of themselves,” she moved to Canada “in hopes of meeting and marrying a handsome cowboy of mythic proportions.” She took a bookkeeping job with a Vancouver newspaper where she met her future husband, the owner of the newspaper. Together they started the Bridge River-Lillooet News, where she “churned out the provocative opinion columns that would become her trademark. Written in what she liked to call ‘flapdoodle vernacular,’ they were sprinkled with such salty expressions as ‘damfool critters’ and ‘that’s fer damshur.’” Brennan’s biography of Ma Murray is insightful and witty, reflecting her…

The Surprising Lives of Small Town Doctors

The Surprising Lives of Small-Town Doctors edited by Dr. Paul Dhillon Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $21.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-431-5 “All doctors, no matter how great or experienced, are a work in progress. They call it practising medicine for a reason.” So declares Dr. Aleem Jamal, one of forty doctors who relate their experiences in The Surprising Lives of Small-Town Doctors, edited by Dr. Paul Dhillon. This 222-page book contains forty stories from all ten Canadian provinces and three territories. One story is in French with English translation, and five are by Saskatchewan physicians. The stories are split almost equally between male and female doctors. As editor, Dr. Dhillon introduces each doctor with a short paragraph. Before relocating to rural or remote areas in Canada, many of these professionals gained experience internationally, such as through Doctors Without Borders. The Surprising Lives of Small-Town Doctors has intriguing chapter titles such as “Do Not Feed the Polar Bears,” “Goldibear and the Four Anglers,” and “Horse Kicks, Talking Heads, and Bear Chases – Oh My!” Speaking of bears, when a patient with dementia claims to have seen one outside his hospital window, his doctor thinks he’s hallucinating, until a…

Measures of Astonishment

Measures of Astonishment: Poets on Poetry with contributions by Margaret Atwood, Anne Carson, George Elliot Clarke, and others ISBN 9780889773714 $27.95 Published by U of R Press Review by Tanya Foster For the creative writer or the poetry reader or the literary specialist, a collection of essays by poets on poetry is an enticement. Many such collections have been written—some consider the poetic process; others uphold various theoretical positions; and others are structured around literary or historical periods. This collection, entitled Measures of Astonishment: Poets on Poetry, is, above all a tribute to poetry. The writers showcase the transfigurative power of poetry—the life-giving, community-building, reality-defining, other-centering possibilities of poetry. As a creative reader, reading this collection will help to unlock a poetic impulse. One of the dominant ideas from the collection is that poetry’s capacity for making connections has transformative power. How often do we try to grab onto a hazy idea that eludes our intellect or try to express what an experience meant but can’t find the language? Metaphor, argue many of the authors, is what poets most rely on to bring connections between what is known and what is unknown. Metaphor offers us access into ideas and experiences…

Journeys in Community-Based Research (Softcover)

Journeys in Community-Based Research by Bonnie Jeffery, Isobel M. Findlay, Diane Martz, and Louise Clarke, eds. Published by University of Regina Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $34.95 978-0-88977-339-4 To many people, pure academic research seems obscure, even irrelevant. Some organizations pointedly ridicule curiosity-based research, implying that only applied research – research undertaken to be put to use – is valuable. And then there is community-based research, a third form directed at positive action, social change, and advocacy, and also the subject of a recent book published by University of Regina Press. It might just change your mind about the significance of academic research. Journeys in Community-Based Research examines ten years of community-based research in Saskatchewan. This research has been underwritten by two bodies – the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU) and the Community–University Institute for Social Research (CUISR) – that work with various partners to address community issues and create positive change. Readers may be familiar with some of the projects and their outcomes. Community-based research (CBR) connects academic rigour with real community needs, producing valuable relationships among universities, policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, and social agencies. The goal is always to discover and deliver benefits for communities at…

*Reading from Behind

*Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus by Jonathan A. Allan Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $34.95 ISBN 9-780889-773844 I’m going to take a leap here and suggest that the asterisk that appears on the cover and in the title of writer and academic Jonathan A. Allan’s provocative new book – the first in a series of books about the body by University of Regina Press – is not by chance. *Reading from Behind pokes fun and slings puns at that most base of body parts, the anus, while also situating it – in all seriousness – within a cultural and literary context. In his ballsy, er, assiduous text, Allan laments how society’s historically been phallic-centric, and he attempts to get to the bottom (it’s impossible to help myself) of why the anus gets short shrift. True to his scholarly quest, Allan addresses the anus “head on”: there are sixty pages of comprehensive notes and references here – plus an index – following the eight chapters (with delightful names, ie: “Topping from the Bottom: Anne Tenino’s Frat Boy and Toppy” and “Spanking Colonialism”). Clearly, this book was not written without significant research….

Inside the Mental

Inside the Mental: Silence, Stigma, Psychiatry, and LSD by Kay Parley Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $24.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-411-7 You never know who you might run into in a mental institution. When Kay Parley is admitted to the Weyburn Mental Hospital, she meets her father and grandfather. Her grandfather had been there before Kay was even born, and her father entered the institution when Kay was only six. She jokes that “they’d have to tear the place down if it wasn’t for my family.” This is one of many shocking details Kay relates in her book, Inside the Mental, a compilation of eighteen stories based on her experiences as both a patient and later as a nurse at The Mental as she calls it. Most of these stories have been previously published in magazines dealing with mental health issues and in her self-published volume, Lady with a Lantern. After a nervous breakdown in 1948, Kay finds herself in the Weyburn Mental Hospital, originally known as the Saskatchewan Hospital. When she observes a row of patients eating with their hands, mixing orange and toast into their porridge and slurping like dogs, a fellow patient tries to…

Sons and Mothers

Sons and Mothers: Stories from Mennonite Men Edited by Mary Ann Loewen Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $21.95 ISBN 9-780889-774032 I’m a fourth generation Canadian, and unfortunately haven’t been privy to conversations about ancestors’ “old country” lives, which, in my case, would have included several European counties. I’ve always felt a kind of longing for such tales, for knowing where we come from helps make sense of who we are today. After reading Sons and Mothers, Stories from Mennonite Men – a collection of a dozen essays commissioned by Winnipeg writer and educator Mary Ann Loewen – I recognize that the disparate contributors’ common heritage bonds them in an almost familial way. Yes, these Mennonite men have shared so many similar experiences they’re like one large family: a family that sings, reads, tells stories, and worships together; values hard work; practices altruism; and celebrates one another – even when individual beliefs don’t align. Two of the most obvious threads in this affecting anthology are the prominent role that music’s played – for the mothers and for their sons – and how several offspring strayed from the church’s traditional doctrines. What distinguishes the essays are…

Defying Palliser
University of Regina Press / 27 April 2016

Defying Palliser: Stories of Resilience from the Driest Region of the Canadian Prairies by Jim Warren and Harry Diaz Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-294-6 Everyone knows farming is tough. But how about getting just one truckload of grain out of 5,000 acres? That’s what happened to the Downie Lake Hutterian Brethren Colony in 2001. Colony member Sam Hofer recalled touring the field that year. He said the weather was so hot and dry that the crop “seemed to turn brown and dry up as we walked by.” This is just one incident related in Defying Palliser: Stories of Resilience from the Driest Region of the Canadian Prairies. The book could just as well be subtitled stories of resistance, since farmers and ranchers resisted the overwhelming forces of nature in the dry zone known as the Palliser Triangle. Named for 19th century explorer John Palliser, the triangle roughly comprises the southern part of the three prairie provinces. Palliser deemed the area unsuitable for agriculture because of its unfavourable climate. Indeed, this triangle can be as devastating to farmers and their crops as the Bermuda Triangle is to ships and planes. Farmers nevertheless stubbornly…