Clearing the Plains, New Edition
University of Regina Press / 20 August 2019

Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics, and the Loss of Indigenous Lifeby James DaschukPublished by University of Regina PressReviewed by Ben Charles$27.95 ISBN 978088776227 Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics, and the Loss of Indigenous Life, written by James Daschuk and published by University of Regina Press, can be best described as a heart wrenching but enlightening review of the systematic destruction of Indigenous peoples and culture in the prairies via the purposeful introduction of disease, starvation, and health disparities by both the Canadian government and private companies. This 2019 New Edition and winner of the Aboriginal History Prize, Cleo Prize, Governor General’s History and ironically the Sir John A. McDonald Prize, was originally published in 2013 and since then has obviously been praised by critics and readers alike. In fact, this reviewer truly believes that every Saskatchewanian should have a copy of this book on their shelves. James Daschuk, a PhD in history and a current associate professor with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina, showcases his unprecedented capacity for research and provides the reader with fascinating (albeit sickening) review of the history of Indigenous health both pre and post-contact. During initial contact, while the…

Baggage
Coteau Books / 5 July 2019

Baggageby Wendy PhillipsPublished by Coteau BooksReviewed by Ben Charles$14.95 ISBN 9781550509700 Baggage, written by Wendy Phillips and published by Coteau Books is a fantastic teen read that covers dark themes with the seriousness that fits the subject matter and a narrative device that is relevant to young readers. The story is set in British Columbia and begins at the Vancouver airport as a young, unidentified foreign boy is found near International Arrivals by a Canadian high school teacher named Ms. Nelson and one of her students, Brittany. The boy has no family or friends in sight, no identification and appears to be malnourished. To make matters worse, he does not speak any languages that anyone in the airport understands. Understandably concerned, the teacher takes the boy to the customs office only to find that their only solution is to deport the boy as he is unidentified and claim that he may not even be protected by child protection laws. They take the boy, Thabo, into their homes to protest the deportation and to protect him at all costs. It is now up to Ms. Nelson, Brittany, her sister Leah, and their friend Kevin to inspire their school and their community…

Life Lessons from a Red Serge

Life Lessons from a Red Sergeby Barb Porter and Linda GarveyPublished by McKenzie Carver & Associates Reviewed by Ben Charles$15.95 ISBN 9781775353607 Life Lessons from a Red Serge, written by sisters Barb Porter and Linda Garvey is an uplifting slice of Canadiana that warms the heart and strengthens the spirit. This collection of life lessons, take-aways, and advice compiled by the sororal duo is dedicated to the authors’ brother, Staff Sergeant Peter Garvey, who unfortunately passed away in 2017 at the age of 54 years old. This book acts a touching tribute both to the Saskatchewan born-and-raised officer and to the service of others in need that he strived for. In addition to serving his communities as an RCMP officer, Peter was also actively involved in the Search and Rescue Saskatchewan Association of Volunteers (SARSAV) as a Search and Rescue member. In fact, profits from the sale of this book will be donated to SARSAV in his honour. The contents of this book contain a series of life-lessons inspired by Peter. The authors had written them into a checklist format with the intention of providing daily reminders to the Sergeant’s grandchildren of how to live as the best people that…

Beyond Shattered Dreams
Gaylene Guillemin / 12 June 2019

Beyond Shattered Dreams: A Journey Through Grief to Self-Empowermentby Gaylene GuilleminPublished by Gaylene Guillemin Reviewed by Ben Charles$16.99 ISBN 9781775220404 Beyond Shattered Dreams: A Journey Through Grief to Self-Empowerment, written and published by Gaylene Guillemin can be best described as a powerful and tender guide through the inescapable sorrows of the human condition that are grief and loss. Guillemin has a wide variety of expertise in the field of loss as a motivational speaker, an angel card reader and from formal education with a certificate in Death and Grief Studies. However, it is not from her studies or her energy work that Guillemin draws from to speak on her experiences with loss but from the tragic loss of her late husband in 2014, Mervin Guillemin, whom she affectionately refers to as “Merv”. The book begins as Gaylene discusses her relationship with Merv. She had been married to him for twenty-two years and from her descriptions of their family and life together the reader can easily see the deep level of love that she still has for him. Gaylene goes on to discuss Merv’s declining health, and the challenges that losing mobility, being in and out of hospitals constantly, and the…

Digital Bundle, A

A Digital Bundle: Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Knowledge Onlineby Jennifer WemigwansPublished by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Ben Charles$29.95 ISBN 9780889775510 A Digital Bundle: Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Knowledge Online, written by Jennifer Wemigwans and published by the U of R Press is an outstanding example of how the knowledge dissemination of revolutionary Indigenous research is done correctly. In the field of Indigenous research technology is hardly discussed, especially in the context of Indigenous sovereignty to language and information. Wemigwans, an Anishinaabekwe woman from the Wikwemikong First Nation, the president of Invert Media, and an assistant professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, challenges the reader to change this discourse and begin to evaluate how modern technology can be an invaluable asset to the retention of Traditional Knowledge. The namesake of the book, the “Digital Bundle”, refers to Wemigwans online project www.FourDirectionsTeachings.com. This website was designed as an online tool to promote the Traditional Knowledge and worldviews of five distinct Indigenous Nations through the teachings of Elders and Traditional Teachers. These five nations include Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and M’ikmaq. If you were to go to the website, and I highly recommend…

Let Me See Your Fancy Steps
Gabriel Dumont Institute / 26 April 2019

Let Me See Your Fancy Steps: Story of a Métis Dance Caller: The Story of Jeanne Pelletier as Told to Sylvie Sara Roy and Wilfred Burton by Jeanne Pelletier, Sylvie Sara Roy, and Wilfred Burton Published by Gabriel Dumont Institute Press Reviewed by Ben Charles C$25.00 ISBN: 9781926795898 “Let Me See Your Fancy Steps: Story of a Métis Dance Caller: The Story of Jeanne Pelletier as Told to Sylvie Sara Roy and Wilfred Burton”, is the story of Jeanne Pelletier, published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute Press. Throughout the course of this book, the reader learns that Jeanne Pelletier is an accomplished Métis woman and a revered member of the Métis community in southern Saskatchewan. Roy and Burton begin Jeanne’s story by highlighting the fact that she began her career as the first female Métis Jig dance caller in the 1970s, a time in which the dance callers were exclusively men and the community was difficult for women to traverse. Roy brilliantly showcases the life experiences and work of Jeanne’s career and rise as a prominent dance caller and Métis educator in Saskatchewan. The book recounts Jeanne’s experiences of reviving the Métis dance to the children in her community and…

Second Cousin Once Removed
Burton House Books / 26 March 2019

“Second Cousin Once Removed” by Byrna BarclayPublished by Burton House BooksReviewed by Ben Charles$20.00 ISBN 9780994866943 Second Cousin Once Removed, written by Byrna Barclay and published by Burton House Books is an incredibly graceful read and a testament to the pure talent of this Saskatchewan author. The novel is a sequel to House of the White Elephant, which in itself was a critically acclaimed novel and the winner of the Whistler/Tidewater Award for Best Fiction in 2016. My estimate is that the sequel will draw equal acclaim, as it is a masterfully written historical fiction brimming with Saskatchewan culture, driven by an intelligent plot and an engrossing narrative. The story follows Jesse Emma Burtonwood, a woman of East Indian descent living in Prince Albert, SK, and is in the midst of mourning the loss of her husband. The story begins in 1953 and follows Jesse as she traverses life in Canada, and forms a relationship with John George Diefenbaker during this tumultuous time in both her life and in Canadian politics. Much of the story also follows Jesse’s granddaughter, Annika Robin, a woman living in Saskatoon, SK. Throughout the story Barclay masterfully crafts both of these characters in such a…

Trans Generation, The
University of Regina Press / 19 March 2019

“The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution”by Ann TraversPublished by University of Regina PressReviewed by Ben Charles$24.95 ISBN 9780889775787 The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution, written by Ann Travers and published by the University of Regina Press is an honest and enlightening review of the trials and struggles of growing up transgender in North America. The experiences contained in this book were gathered by a series of interviews with transgender kids and youth (individuals from a wide variety of ages, from 4 to 18) and the parents of trans kids in Canada and the United States between the years of 2012 to 2017. As someone who is not transgender and knows relatively little about experiences of transgender people, I found this book to be an incredibly informative experience. This was in no small part due to Travers’ incredibly close attention to detail and the obvious meticulousness that they poured into their research. Literature that is academic in nature has a tendency to be a little dry, somewhat hard to follow, and littered with jargon. However, I did not find this to be the case with…

War and Peace in the Workplace
Wood Dragon Books / 10 February 2019

War and Peace in the Workplace: Diversity, Conflict, Understanding, Reconciliationby Jeanne MartinsonPublished by Wood Dragon Books Reviewed by Ben Charles$21.99 ISBN 9780968537022 War & Peace in the Workplace: Diversity, Conflict, Understanding, Reconciliation is written by Saskatchewan-native Jeanne Martinson, a renowned speaker, author, and management trainer. Published by Wood Dragon Books and distributed by Martrain Corporation and Personal Development, this national bestseller is designed as a guide for employers, organizations, managers, or those interested in navigating their work places in a more positive manner. The content of this book pertains to many of the challenges that the average Canadian faces in the workplace. These include: diversity/bias, toxic people and environments, harassment, conflict, and much more. Similar to one of Martinson’s other bestsellers, From Away: Immigration to Effective Workplace Integration, this book begins with an in-depth analysis of what diversity is, and how it may affect communities such as the average Canadian workplace. The most interesting portion of this chapter, in my opinion, is Martinson’s analysis of the factors that shape a human being’s “us vs. them” mentality, and how easy it is for us to distort information to cater to our biases. If you have interest in human behaviour or psychology,…

From Away
Wood Dragon Books / 5 February 2019

From Away: Immigration To Effective Workplace Integration by Jeanne Martinson Published by Wood Dragons Books Reviewed by Ben Charles $21.99 ISBN 9780995334212 From Away: Immigration To Effective Workplace Integration, written by Jeanne Martinson and published by Wood Dragons Books, can be best described as a concise yet effective tool for employers and managers to navigate an increasingly diverse team. For better or for worse, Canada’s economy is significantly driven by a workforce that is largely comprised of immigrant employees and entrepreneurs. Although this increased manpower reduces stress on employers and the economy, it also presents unique challenges, misunderstandings, language barriers, and cultural differences that may be difficult for an average Canadian to understand. A gesture or saying that may be completely innocent to us may also be highly offensive through the lens of another culture, or vice versa. Martinson’s book is a fantastic place to begin as a Canadian who may not understand all of the intricacies, values, and mannerisms that various cultures from around the globe maintain. The book creates a useful framework for the reader to begin with by a brief introduction, statistical figures of Canada’s immigration history, and a crash course on the modality of Western culture….