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…

Forty-One Pages
University of Regina Press / 10 April 2019

“Forty-One Pages: On Poetry, Language and Wilderness”by John Steffler Published by University of Regina Press Reviewed by Toby A. Welch $21.95 ISBN 9780889775879 I have a confession to make: this Forty-One Pages intimidated me. After finishing the introduction, I shook my head. I could not have put into words the gist of what I’d read. I took a breath and dove back in. I was rewarded with a glimpse into a completely different way of looking at writing and language. I felt like an alien whose ship touched down on the Saskatchewan prairies – discombobulated yet awestruck. The entire book continued in this vein. It challenged ideals I’d never questioned before, opening my eyes to a multitude of previously unthought-of possibilities. Even though I am a writer, I’ve never given as much thought to writing and language as I did while devouring this book. Steffler delves deeply into those themes from all directions. The history of language and the history of words are covered in detail. He even compares the parallels between writing and photography, between the camera and language. Engaging with words on a page is a theme that runs throughout the book. It is an enormous thought, especially…

Transforming Child Welfare
University of Regina Press / 10 April 2019

“Transforming Child Welfare: Interdisciplinary Practices, Field Education and Research”edited by H. Monty Montgomery, Dorothy Badry, Don Fuchs and Daniel Kikulwe, editorsPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Madonna HamelISBN 9780889774513 $39.95 The authors of Transforming Child Welfare begin with a focus on The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified by196 nations (except for the United States) in 1991. Nelson Mandela described the Convention as a “living luminous document that enshrines the rights of every child without exception to a life of dignity and self-fulfillment.” While the UNRC and dozens of organizations, institutions, parliamentarians, individuals and even the children themselves work for change, UNICEF’s recent report card measuring overall well-being among children in twenty-nine countries in the world reveals Canada in seventeenth place. (The top three being Netherlands, Norway and Iceland). In fact, Canada is among a group of five countries that has seen no improvement and actual regression when it comes to the welfare of the child. And those “left furthest behind are Indigenous.” The authors insist “this is an uncomfortable truth but not an inevitable situation.” The rate of children in foster care in Canada is among the highest in the world, with most…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…