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…

Manufacturing Urgency
University of Regina Press / 6 December 2018

Manufacturing Urgency: The Development Industry and Violence Against Women by Corinne L. Mason University of Regina Press Review by Rose Willow $34.95 ISBN 9780889774711 The title of this book, Manufacturing Urgency, immediately grabbed my attention, causing my mind to ponder. Why manufacture urgency? Isn’t there enough urgency already in today’s world? Isn’t violence against women an already urgent issue without “manufacturing” more? Corinne L. Mason looks behind the scenes of this perplexing issue and provides insight into the motives behind this manufacture of urgency. There are three big players in the manufacture of urgency including American foreign policy makers, World Bank, and the United Nations – their motive – to further the development of industry. Mason gives due consideration to Hillary Clinton, longtime advocate for women’s rights and strong proponent for ending violence against women, but argues Clinton’s approach, from when she was secretary of state, portrayed a morally superior attitude and fostered “a particular brand of U.S. state feminism.” In addition, Clinton’s approach was based on failed criminal models from within the U.S. Her motives were to affect American foreign policy, to serve U.S security issues, and to improve the image and attitudes about the United States all around…

Psychedelic Revolutionaries
University of Regina Press / 15 November 2018

Psychedelic Revolutionaries: LSD and the Birth of Hallucinogenic Research By P.W. Barber Published by University of Regina Press Review by Michelle Shaw $34.95 ISBN 9780889774209 Long before Timothy Leary and the psychedelic summer of love in San Francisco made LSD a global phenomenon, researchers were quietly testing the drug’s efficacy and possibilities in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairies. Researchers Humphry Osmond, Abram Hoffer and Duncan Blewett, among others, were fascinated about the possibilities of using LSD and other psychedelic drugs to treat certain conditions such as schizophrenia and alcoholism. Their research occurred at a unique time in Saskatchewan’s history. Tommy Douglas’s Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government was in power, Medicare was on the horizon and the government was determined to address the huge challenges in the province’s mental health system. The government was looking for new and innovative ideas. Osmond, Hoffer and their contemporaries were in the right place at the right time. Their research appeared so successful that “the province was heralded….as a world leader in mental health in the 1950s, [and h]allucinogenic drugs figured centrally in this research.” Although I knew very little about the topic, P.W Barber’s narrative in Psychedelic Revolutionaries: LSD and the Birth of…

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…

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…