Imagining Child Welfare in the Spirit of Reconciliation
University of Regina Press / 19 March 2019

“Imagining Child Welfare in the Spirit of Reconciliation: Voices from the Prairies”Edited by Dorothy Badry, H. Monty Montgomery, Daniel Kikulwe, Marlyn Bennett, and Don FuchsPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-575-6 There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Indigenous child welfare and the Sixties Scoop, where Indigenous children were scooped up and placed with non-Indigenous families. A symposium held in Winnipeg, MB by the Prairie Child Welfare Consortium in 2016 addressed these and other serious issues. Imagining Child Welfare in the Spirit of Reconciliation is an outgrowth of that symposium. This is volume 6 in the Voices from the Prairies series, focusing specifically on the well-being of Indigenous children in the three Prairie provinces – Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. The authors and editors are passionate about promoting Indigenous rights, particularly for children. And by Indigenous or Aboriginal, they’re referring inclusively to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. This volume looks at four main areas – policy, practice, research, and education – in twelve chapters written by two dozen scholars well-versed in Indigenous culture and the child welfare system. Each chapter ends with a series of questions and list of references. These thought-provoking questions and their…

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,…

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…

Thunderbird, The Quesnel, and the Sea,
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 10 January 2019

The Thunderbird, the Quesnel, & the Sea by Bev Lundahl Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-35-2 In The Thunderbird, the Quesnel, & the Sea, Bev Lundahl takes readers on an investigative journey to track down a stolen grave marker carved in the shape of a mythical Indigenous thunderbird. She invites readers to follow her leads, hoping to find the missing artifact but not knowing if it even still exists During the dark years of World War II, while docked at Alert Bay on the coast of British Columbia, sailors from the Canadian corvette HMCS Quesnel removed the carving from the ‘Namgis First Nation burial ground. The area was notable for its totem poles, and the crew wanted to distinguish their West Coast ship from East Coast ships. A thunderbird mascot would do just that. The thunderbird was in such poor shape that the crew wasn’t sure whether to fix it or simply discard it. They opted to repair and paint it and bolted it to the crow’s nest on the mast. The Quesnel‘s captain, Murdo Smith, wanted the thunderbird off his ship, not because it was stolen, but because he believed it was…

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…

Horses, Dogs and Wives
DriverWorks Ink / 15 November 2018

Horses, Dogs and Wives by Bryce Burnett Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-44-9 A cowboy needs three things – his horse, a dog, and a wife. This is according to Bryce Burnett, author of Horses, Dogs and Wives, a collection of rhyming cowboy poems and short stories with a good dose of humour throughout. Burnett points out that he has several horses and numerous dogs, but only one wife, whom, he admits, he embarrasses with his poems. Horses, Dogs and Wives is divided into four sections – one each on horses, dogs, and wives, plus a bonus section for good measure. He also includes several quotes by American cowboy humorist Will Rogers. Burnett’s poems cover a variety of horses, from quarter horses, unbroken rodeo horses, even a rocking horse, to those bound for the processing plant. He shows the dangers of being thrown off a horse. In the section on canine friends, Burnett speaks about the pride of training a dog, although one might wonder who is training whom. But with a well-trained dog, he points out, there’s really no need for a hired hand. In “Puppy Love,” Burnett writes from a dog’s point of…

No-Badge Killick
Monkey's Fist Publishing / 19 October 2018

No-Badge Killick: Life at Sea in Canada’s Cold War Navy by Gord Hunter Published by Monkey’s Fist Publishing Review by Keith Foster $20.00 ISBN 978-0-9681803-1-0 Talk about adventures on the high seas. Gord Hunter hits the mark in No-Badge Killick: Life at Sea in Canada’s Cold War Navy, where some of his adventures take place under the seas. Sailors in Commonwealth Navies refer to a Leading Seaman as a killick, originally the name given to a small anchor. After serving at least three years without getting into trouble, a sailor is entitled to wear a good conduct badge. If a Leading Seaman commits a major breach, he loses his good conduct badge, thus becoming a no-badge killick. In 1962, after his high school principal tells him not to bother returning, Hunter enlists in the Royal Canadian Navy. He’s only seventeen. He barely completes his basic training before being assigned to a ship during the Cuban missile crisis that fall, at the height of the Cold War. Hunter trains as a sonar operator, learning how to detect and track Soviet submarines and spy ships. The highly sensitive equipment is top secret and on one occasion he has to order a senior…

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…