kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly
University of Regina Press / 29 August 2018

kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly edited by Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-542-8 kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly, referring to the area now known as Saskatchewan, has something for every taste, especially those with an appreciation of Indigenous literature. It’s an eclectic mix of stories, poetry, historical documents, and creative nonfiction. Inspired by an anthology of Indigenous writing in Manitoba, editor Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber undertook a similar project in Saskatchewan. This ambitious anthology is the result. kisiskâciwan follows a variety of themes – treaties, residential schools, conflict, women and families, everyday life, First Nations culture – all written by Indigenous people. These include members of the five main First Nations cultural groups in the province – Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dakota, and Dene – as well as Lakota and Métis This anthology is the first time a collection of writing by Saskatchewan Indigenous authors has been assembled. It contains significant historical material by such notable Indigenous personalities as Poundmaker, Big Bear, Piapot, Sitting Bull, Louis Riel, and Gabriel Dumont. It also contains important historical documentation predating the colonial period. It’s amazing that such…

Ladder Valley

Ladder Valley by Donna Miller Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $21.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-24-6 Based on her life story, Donna Miller’s Ladder Valley reads more like a psychological thriller than a memoir. Her first-person narrative smashes through raw emotions like a chainsaw shredding flesh. This is Miller’s fourth book in a series called Help Me; I’m Naked. Examining mother-daughter relationships, her hard-hitting look at domestic violence shows how abuse affects three generations of women as it trickles down from mother to daughter to granddaughter. To protect their privacy, Miller changes her name and those of her children. She becomes Korel, and her children are Angie, Sonya, Sapphire, and Kennalyn. They’re living near Big River, an isolated area on the edge of Saskatchewan’s boreal forest, in 1979-1980. Due to a curse by her great-grandmother, all of Korel’s relationships, and those of her mother, turn out badly. Listening to her mother describe being raped at age six, Korel finds herself “slipping into a pit, an ugly black abyss of compassion juxtaposed with anger” and contempt, creating a ghetto in her soul. An only child whose father molested her, Korel fled an unhappy marriage with her four daughters, then…

Claiming Anishinaabe
University of Regina Press / 24 August 2018

Claiming Anishinaabe: decolonizing the human spirit by Lynn Gehl University of Regina Press Review by Madonna Hamel $24.95 ISBN 9780889774919 Claiming Anishinaabe is a treatise on one indigenous woman’s “theory of the human spirit.” I came away from it with a deeper conviction that colonization is a practice that corrals minds, bodies and spirits. And every one of us suffers at its constricting hands. My own internalized shame at this country’s treatment of indigenous people has made it hard for me to face many truths. After reading this book I wrote a Cree friend: “Shame is a regime tool. Whether it’s The Old Regime calling us heathens or The New Regime calling us fat, ugly, old, unsuccessful, off-key etc. When shame enters the picture no one gets to tell their truth. We hunker down and defend our little patch of reality. We cannot afford to open to Other Ways of Knowing. We can’t bear one more finger wave or barb of contempt.” Gehl refers consistently to her own journey and perspectives. She intricately describes an Indigenous world that reflects her life as academic, scientist, Anishinaabe and a partially blind woman. While resisting blaming individuals, she does“blame Canada”. Often. She blames…

Children of the Broken Treaty (New Edition)
University of Regina Press / 24 August 2018

Children of the Broken Treaty (New Edition): Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream by Charlie Angus Published by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Madonna Hamel $27.95 ISBN 9780889774971 Children of the Broken Treaty opens with a quote by fourteen-year-old Chelsea Edwards of Attawapiskat First Nation: “Perhaps you have heard of how Rosa Parks helped start the civil rights movement. Well, we are the children who have been sitting at the back of the school bus our whole lives. And we don’t want to stay there anymore.” When Rosa Parks was ordered off the bus she simply responded with: “I’m tired.” When Chelsea and her friend Shannen Koostichin “began the largest youth-driven human rights movement in the country’s history” they simply said: “ I want a school.” And then they told their story to the world. Youth across the country got it, right away. They responded, cutting through the political posturing of the Goliaths of government, demanding the children of Attawapiskat get proper schools. Author Charlie Angus follows a movement that began in 2008 in Attawapiskat by a group of school-less students led by fourteen year-old Shannen Koostachin who was encouraged by her “Grand Chief to speak the truth…

Possessions
DriverWorks Ink / 22 June 2018

Possessions: Their Role in Anger, Greed, Envy, Jealousy, and Death by Boris W. Kishchuk Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-42-5 I love games: card, word, trivia, etc., and I’ve usually been fortunate to have someone in my circle who also enjoys a friendly but spirited competition. Why share that in a review of Saskatoon writer Boris W. Kishchuk’s latest nonfiction title, Possessions: Their Role in Anger, Greed, Envy, Jealousy, and Death? Read on. In the preface to this exquisitely-researched book Kishchuk writes that he’s wondered “why people kill each other,” and he wins my attention. This text examines “the psychology of possession”. The author investigates our desire to possess from myriad angles, including religious and economic reasons, and presents numerous diverse examples of how the human penchant for possessing has led to crime, brutality, murder and war. At the end of this page-turner Kishchuk reveals that his original title idea was The Curse of Possessions. He could have called it Read This and Never Lose at “Jeopardy” Again! Kishchuk’s previous titles demonstrate his eclectic range of interests: Long Term Care in Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Crown Corporations, and Connecting with Ukraine. Possessions is “more reflective in…

Prairie Populist, The

The Prairie Populist: George Hara Williams and the Untold Story of the CCF: An Essay on Radical Leadership in a Time of Crisis and the Victory of Socialist Agrarian Populism, 1921-1944 by J.F. Conway Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-545-9 The Prairie Populist: George Hara Williams and the Untold Story of the CCF is a scholarly study of a virtually unknown leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, practically forgotten even though George Williams might have become premier of Saskatchewan. Author John F. Conway bases his biography on a Master’s thesis by Friedrich Steininger and an unpublished manuscript by Muriel Wiens, Williams’ daughter. Conway combines Steininger’s academic approach and Wiens’ personal story with his own massive research, uncovering the hidden history of factions within the party and friction among its leaders, to tell the untold story of the CCF. In 1917, Williams enlisted in Lord Strathcona’s Horse regiment and a year later was wounded in the last cavalry charge of World War I. His fighting spirit continued as a farm and political organizer. As a full-blown socialist, he argued that the only way to defeat the traditional political parties was to commit totally to…

10 Essential Rules for Successful Grant Writing
Last Mountain Publishers / 22 June 2018

10 Essential Rules for Successful Grant Writing: Get the Money Your Non-Profit Organization Needs by Robert Friedrich Published by Last Mountain Publishers Review by Kris Brandhagen $29.00 ISBN 9780995962606 Written by Robert Friedrich, who has over thirty combined years of experience in the field, as a program manager, officer and funding agent, 10 Essential Rules for Successful Grant Writing: Get the Money Your Non-Profit Organization Needs is a nonfiction guide book for grant proposal writers. Right from the beginning, Friedrich includes apt questions to get the reader started on their own application. He uses clear, straightforward language and real world examples to get his points across. The key points are clearly identified in bold type, fleshed out by examples, making it easy for the reader to use this book as a step by step guide right from the brainstorming stage. Friedrich explains each rule in a short chapter, ending with an exercise. He also includes many quotations from the point of view of the funding organization; although these are unattributed, they are still extremely useful. The structure of most of the chapters include simple diagrams, charts, lists, and callouts that highlight key points, increasing readability. There is a concise guide…

Journey to Joy

Journey to Joy by Christalee Froese Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $24.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-12-3 “I’ve always wanted to keep everything, do everything and be everything,” Christalee Froese explains in her book, Journey to Joy: The Transformation of a Life . . . 21 Days at a Time. This excessive weight of taking on too much lands her in a psych ward where, as she puts it, she models hospital gowns – the ones that don’t fasten up in the back. While there, she has an epiphany. Upon her release, Froese spends twenty-one consecutive days focusing on one goal, to find joy in what she does. She then spends twenty-one days of each succeeding month focusing on a new goal, like peace, faith, relaxation, travel. She tries her own versions of yoga poses, such as the Wobbly Flamingo and the Awkward Elephant. When her goal focuses on pets, she cares for five fluffy newborn kittens which she repeatedly assures readers she’s not getting attached to. Froese is supported in her recovery by her husband Lewis and young son Logan, as well as by neighbours and professionals. After a miscarriage and unable to conceive another child, she…

Dear Me: The Widow Letters
DriverWorks Ink / 13 June 2018

Dear Me: The Widow Letters Compiled by Dianne Young Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $14.95            ISBN 978-1-927570-43-2 Only those who’ve experienced the loss of a spouse can know the intense emotional feelings of that bereavement. In Dear Me: The Widow Letters, Dianne Young compiles the feelings of twenty widows, including herself, in a series of letters written several years after the death of their spouse. Each widow writes a letter addressed to herself as she was in the immediate aftermath of her loss. It’s as if each is going back in time to give the advice and consolation she wishes she’d had. These widows of varying ages live across Canada and one in the United States; thirteen are from Saskatchewan. Some marriages were long-term – sixty-four years for one couple – others short, barely beyond the honeymoon stage for another couple. Each widow explores her feelings as she goes through the various phases of the grieving process. Everyone experiences grief differently, yet all share some of the same traits. Feelings of guilt and anger are normal. So is crying, even at the most unexpected times, like at a checkout line or going through the car wash. Others…

After The War: Surviving PTSD and Changing Mental Health Culture

After the War: Surviving PTSD and Changing Mental Health Culture By Stéphane Grenier with Adam Montgomery Review by Michelle Shaw Published by University of Regina Press $27.95 CAD ISBN 9780889775336 When Canadian soldier Stéphane Grenier headed to Rwanda in 1994 as part of the UN peacekeeping force, he had no idea it was the beginning of a journey which would change his life forever. He returned to Canada ten and a half months later grateful to be alive. But as he adjusted to “normal” life back home with his wife and children, he began to notice that something fundamental had shifted. There were changes that, in retrospect, he says, acted as signs of things to come. He was persistently impatient–the smallest thing could set him off. He had constant nightmares and difficulty sleeping. He experienced suicidal thoughts. Grenier knew something was wrong and tried to seek help but soon realized that “like numerous soldiers during the 1990s, I’d come into contact with a dysfunctional military health-care system and stale psychiatric methods, not to mention many doctors who were unaware of what war and peacekeeping could do to a person’s mind.” He discovered that “the military was completely unprepared to deal…