No Surrender
University of Regina Press / 18 March 2019

“No Surrender: The Land Remains Indigenous”by Sheldon KrasowskiPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$27.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-596-1 In No Surrender: The Land Remains Indigenous, Sheldon Krasowski brings a controversial interpretation to Canada’s numbered treaties – an interpretation that could blow our current understanding wide open. This exposé with the defiant title explores the differences in perceptions of Canada’s treaties by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Krasowski’s thesis is simple. He contends that much of today’s confusion arises not from a difference in cultures or a misunderstanding of languages, but as a deliberate attempt by Canadian treaty commissioners to cover up a controversial surrender clause. No Surrender provides the historical context of the numbered treaties – Treaties One through Seven signed between 1871 and 1877. Examining eyewitness accounts and private diaries, Krasowski makes a strong argument based on his in-depth analysis of the original treaty documents. He brings a fresh approach to the treaties by incorporating Indigenous oral histories. Accessing them adds a vital dimension to our understanding of treaties. In many cases, they corroborate what’s in the written records. Krasowski suggests looking at all the numbered treaties together rather than individually. Although the treaties were based on a similar template,…

Black Writers Matter
University of Regina Press / 18 March 2019

Black Writers MatterEdited by Whitney FrenchPublished by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Toby A. Welch $27.95 ISBN 9780889776166 This collection of 23 stories touched on every emotion I am capable of feeling. And that is a good thing! It’s a refreshing change when a book can take you far out of your comfort zone. As a Caucasian woman, it was eye-opening to read about experiences and issues that Black Canadians face. It’s hard to miss the Black Lives Matter movement or the ongoing worldwide racial struggles if you spend five minutes watching the news but this anthology takes us to a new awareness level. With this book in hand, you are able to experience the pain as well as the joys that Black Canadians go through. There is an underlying tone of rage in many of the stories, helping to convey the angst and frustration some of the writers live with. The level of creativity in this book is mind-blowing. I was presented with phrases and thoughts that will linger with me because of their sheer uniqueness. Even the titles are ingenious – “Glass Lasagna” and “A Picture of Words” immediately come to mind. Words like “bludgeon”, “diaspora”, and…

Voice: On Writing with Deafness
University of Regina Press / 11 March 2019

Voice: On Writing with Deafnessby Adam PottleReview by Michelle ShawPublished by University of Regina PressISBN 9780889775930 $18.95 Adam Pottle enjoys dynamiting stereotypes. He’s an award-winning, Saskatoon-based author whose work explores the dynamic and philosophical aspects of Deafness and disability. Born with sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, Adam’s hearing was further compromised in his late twenties when the hearing in his right ear (up to then his ‘good’ ear) began to diminish. His latest work Voice: On Writing with Deafness explores the relationship between his writing and his deafness. I found the book intriguing. I’d never considered writing specifically from the perspective of deafness and, I admit that if had occurred to me I’d probably have fallen into stereotypical thinking. But Pottle has a unique way of perceiving the world. His approach to silence, for instance. “Although deafness and silence are related,” he says, “deafness is not necessarily synonymous with silence. It is not simply a condition of non-hearing; it can be a condition of hearing things differently.” He says his deafness has made him into a writer, and “writing has become my way of fully inhabiting the world.” Pottle’s work has consistently challenged boundaries and one of his chief…

Learning to Die

“Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis”Published by University of Regina PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.95 ISBN 9-780889-775633 Not many writers get their books blurbed by Margaret Atwood, but BC writers and scholars Robert Bringhurst and Jan Zwicky earned that honour with their small and powerful hat-trick of essays, Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis. These “Truth-filled mediations about grace in the face of mortality” (Atwood) are well-researched, highly educational, and eminently thought-provoking warnings about the fate of our world and species. Bringhurst authored the first essay, “The Mind of the Wild”. He maintains that there’s much we should – but have not – learned from “the wild,” which “is in control of itself and has room within it for humans but does not need and cannot tolerate human domination”. What’s this wild he speaks of? “Everything that grows and breeds and functions without supervision or imposed control,” or, more succinctly, “earth living its life to the full”. Bringhurst argues that humans are essentially committing suicide with our attempts to ““tame” the already “sane” natural world. What makes this essay so remarkable is the combination of exceptional writing, science (ie: the role cyanobacteria…

Raising Grandkids
University of Regina Press / 9 February 2019

Raising Grandkidsby Gary GarrisonPublished by University of Regina PressReviewed by Madonna Hamel $19.95 ISBN 9780889775541 Last week buying groceries, I asked the cashier how her day was going. “Well, I’ve got to rush back to be with the little ones, my son’s back in rehab and my daughter, who knows where she is.” I told her she sounded like one of the superhero grandparents in book I’m reading called Raising Grandkids. “I had no idea how many of you there were!” “Yes, there seems to be more of us. We are picking up after a lost generation”. Gary Garrison, author of Raising Grandkids, is part of a cultural phenomenon new to most North Americans– grandparents raising babies, toddlers and teenagers. He is raising a grand-daughter when one normally retires or enters a retirement home. Not the natural course of events. But the number of young people who “can’t or won’t raise their own children due to addiction, poverty, poor health” and even death is rising and more and more grandparents are stepping in to raise traumatized grandchildren with problems of their own, including fetal infant alcohol syndrome. Garrison takes us through the tangled web of bureaucracy that several grandparents, who…

Ältester, The
University of Regina Press / 7 February 2019

“The Ältester: Herman D.W. Friesen, A Mennonite Leader in Changing Times” by Bruce L. GuentherPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$34.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-572-5 When change inevitably intersects with strongly held traditional beliefs, there’s bound to be a clash. How one man and his community cope with the challenge of changing times is the theme of Bruce Guenther’s biography, The Ältester: Herman D.W. Friesen, A Mennonite Leader in Changing Times. The Ältester is an intimate portrait of a family man, a community leader, and a religious role model in the Hague-Osler area north of Saskatoon, where Herman Friesen was born in 1908. As one of Herman’s grandsons, Guenther writes from a unique vantage point, showing how the family served as a “microcosm of the transitions taking place within the larger Old Colony Mennonite community in the region.” Conflict arose over the Saskatchewan government’s insistence on English-language public schools for children, rather than private schools where Mennonites could teach their own language and religion. Unable to resolve this issue, many Old Colony Mennonites migrated to Mexico in the 1920s, but Herman’s parents stayed in Saskatchewan. Herman’s story would not be complete without his wife. He didn’t have to go far…

Unexpected Cop, The
University of Regina Press / 5 February 2019

The Unexpected Cop: Indian Ernie on a Life of Leadership by Ernie Louttit Published by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Toby A. Welch $21.95 ISBN 9780889775992 Some of my favourite books have been ones that taught me something. The Unexpected Cop did just that, opening my eyes on a variety of topics. While it touches on so much ground, the heart of this book is about policing, leadership, and race issues. Even though Indian Ernie and I come from opposite backgrounds, I felt a strong kinship with the humble, gracious man. He said people inspire him every day to be a better person, something I aim for, too. His belief that optimism is powerful echoes my opinion. No matter the details of your past, you will find Indian Ernie a relatable guy, struggling with many of the same issues that the rest of us face. As a woman, it was fascinating to read about Indian Ernie’s experiences with feminism. Despite the constant discussions around women’s rights in the media these days, I never fully grasped the conflicts that men may endure in our culture. Ernie wrote eloquently about his struggles with womanism, compounded by a childhood led by a…

Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education
University of Regina Press / 10 January 2019

Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education by Marc Spooner and James McNinch Published by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Ben Charles $34.95 ISBN: 9780889775367 Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, edited and introduced by Marc Spooner and James McNinch and published by University of Regina Press is a highly astute evaluation of the current academic paradigm found within modern universities and educational institutions. Spooner and McNinch, both brilliant academics in their own rights, draw from an all-star cast of academics to review the historical and socioeconomic factors that have led to the neoliberal and corporate interest serving audit culture that can be observed in our post-secondary institutions today. In the true fashion of academic literature, the thoughts and ideas that Spooner and McNinch present are supported by a nearly maddening amount of research, scholars, and peer-reviewed literature from a wide variety of sources. These sources used to support their arguments are also drawn from a range of interdisciplinary scholars and institutions, a detail that I found impressive as it was evident that this literature was written with great care in ensuring that bias was not included. The end result of this is an objective, yet shrewd and scathing critique of the…

Man of the Trees
University of Regina Press / 7 December 2018

Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, The First Global Conservationist by Paul Hanley Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-566-4 Americans have Johnny Appleseed as one of their folk heroes; Saskatchewan has Richard St. Barbe Baker, a real-life action hero. Although Baker is not as well known, he is the original tree hugger, so well documented in Paul Hanley’s biography, Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, The First Global Conservationist. Born in 1889, Baker was an eccentric Englishman obsessed with trees. As a youngster, he wandered through a forest, lost but thoroughly enjoying the trees’ embrace. It was as if they’d adopted him. He felt born again. Enthralled with stories he’d heard of Canada, Baker migrated and in 1909 took the train to Saskatoon. He was one of the first 100 students to enrol in the new University of Saskatchewan, taking out a homestead at Beaver Creek, fifteen miles from the campus. He then worked as a lumberjack north of Prince Albert. The nearby sawmill at Big River was the largest in the world at that time. Appalled at the wastage in the cutting process, Baker determined to save trees….

Homesteaders, The
University of Regina Press / 7 December 2018

The Homesteaders by Sandra Rollings-Magnusson Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $49.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-515-2 Have you ever wondered what life was like for the pioneers who settled the Prairies? Sandra Rollings-Magnusson’s The Homesteaders offers a rare glimpse into Saskatchewan’s homesteading history by the very homesteaders who made that history. Rollings-Magnusson based her coffee-table book primarily on questionnaires the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan devised in the 1950s, asking surviving pioneers for their reminiscences of the 1873-1914 period. The questions were grouped under a number of themes, including the types of food they ate, experiences in one-room schools, injuries and illnesses, and what they did for fun and entertainment. Incorporating the information she gleaned from these questionnaires and other sources, Rollings-Magnusson fashioned the material into a highly entertaining and readable account of these homesteaders In their own words, these pioneers comment on topics as diverse as droughts to blizzards. Besides enduring wicked winter weather, homesteaders had to contend with pesky pests galore – gophers, grasshoppers, cutworms, mosquitoes, bedbugs, and even snakes in one’s bed. Rollings-Magnusson notes that settlers devised ingenious ways of coping, using wooden store boxes and apple barrels for furniture, turning flour sacks into bedsheets and…