Conserving the Legacy
Nature Saskatchewan / 12 July 2022

Conserving the Legacy: Wildlife Conservation in Saskatchewan 1905-2005by G. Wayne PepperPublished by Nature SaskatchewanReview by Toby A. Welch$34.95 ISBN 9780921104360 Conserving the Legacy is a physically powerful book. Weighing in at just shy of a hefty one kilogram, it packs a wallop. It is a pleasure to hold. And that is all before you get past the beautiful cover image of a male sharp-tailed grouse sparring. Once inside, it is clear that a massive amount of time, effort, and planning went into this book. It contains a tremendous volume of information detailing how wildlife was maintained during the first century of our province’s history.  In an era when anyone can toss a few random facts together, throw a dozen pages online for sale and call it a book, this piece of work stands out. It rings in at close to 400 awesome and comprehensive pages. The amount of research that went into this book is mind-blowing. Conserving the Legacy was clearly a labour of love for Pepper and it shows on every page. This is a book you can come back to often when looking for information on wildlife conservation. It never fails to inform you of something new.  I…

Mind the Gap
Wood Dragon Books / 22 June 2022

Mind the Gap: Navigating Your Leadership Journeyby Doug Forsdick, Keri Schwebius, and Heather ThomsonPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Toby A. Welch$19.99 ISBN 9781989078846 Like the title spells out, Mind the Gap covers how to become a more effective leader, but it is much more than that. It is geared towards leadership in the workplace, but those not interested in career leadership advice will also get valuable information from the pages. Additionally, employees will find the information helpful as they contemplate workplace situations. This book is divided into four areas of leadership: ‘focus on you’, ‘plot the course and steer the way’, ‘maneuver within your organization’, and ‘continue the journey’. We read about the differences between managers and leaders, the role your values play in leadership, how to have difficult conversations, and many other aspects of leadership. Each chapter ends with Reflection Questions, a list of questions to get you thinking about your own leadership journey and how you want to grow. They are powerful questions that can lead to hours of contemplation. My favourite chapter is #20: “Getting Sh*t Done.” It shares how to create a system to help you accomplish what needs to get done. It also touches…

Carrying the Burden of Peace

Carrying the Burden of Peaceby Sam McKegneyPublished by University of Regina PressReviewed by Madonna Hamel$34.95 ISBN 9780889777934 From the first sentence of his book, Carrying the Burden of Peace, author Sam McKegney poses questions big enough for all of us to embrace, questions asking for new ways to scrutinize our world: “Can a critical examination of Indigenous masculinities be an honour song?” he asks. Can it “celebrate rather pathologize”? How do we hold institutions accountable and yet still “validate and affirm” the people who need validating and affirming? How do we entertain change without “fixing new terms of engagement”? His most pressing question: “Can an examination of Indigenous masculinities be an embodied enterprise?” Makes me think: If it can’t we are all doomed, because nowhere in the wider culture have I found a people more effective at embodiment – through humour, creativity, eros, and spirit – than Indigenous communities. The title of McKegney’s book comes from the Kanien’keha:ka word for “warrior”, which when translated, reads: “those who carry the burden of peace.” (This gives me pause, once again, to consider what we lose and have lost, intentionally and unintentionally, in translation.) McKegney quotes activist and artist Ellen Gabriel, who says:…

German Settlements in Saskatchewan

German Settlements In Saskatchewanby Alan B. AndersonPublished by Saskatchewan German Council Inc.Review by Madonna Hamel$20.00 ISBN 9780969401674 Growing up I heard stories about my grandmother’s job as the postmistress of Krupp and of the acres of sunflowers planted by German farmers surrounding my grandparent’s land just North of Fox Valley. When my sister and I went looking for Krupp we found no evidence of it, although someone speculated that a large feed bin was once the old post office. I could have used this meticulously researched history of the province’s settlements in my searches. It would have explained to me that many of the Russian-German settlements spanning an expansive territory bordered by Medicine Hat, Leader and Maple Creek, including my French-Canadian-Metis-Scottish-American grandparents farm, had changed their names after both world wars. When Leader became the “de facto centre of the settlements” in 1913 it was actually named Prussia. But during World War I the town name was changed along with street names like Berlin, Kaiser and Hamburg. No doubt Krupp suffered the same fate. Prelate was also a name I’d heard as a child. I knew there was a church there, just ten kilometres down the road from Leader, and…

Miss G and Me
DriverWorks Ink / 27 April 2022

Miss G and Meby Jennifer S. WallacePublished by DriverWorks InkReview by Michelle Shaw$18.95 ISBN 9781927570753 Weaving together poems, journal entries, anecdotes and personal essays, Miss G and Me is a beautifully written memoir as well as an exploration of identity, culture, family and place. Jennifer Wallace grew up knowing the basics of her mother’s life. Ruth Williamson was born and grew up in Jamaica. She came to Saskatchewan to work as a nurse and married. But slowly Jennifer began to suspect that there was a lot more to her mother than she’d thought, especially when her sister answered the phone one day to hear a voice asking for Miss G. Jennifer has pieced together her mother’s story through countless interviews with family and friends and research into a myriad of topics. Vividly colored vignettes slip back and forwards through time and place as the book moves between Jamaica, London and Saskatchewan from 1948 to the present. Ruth was just 17 when she left her family in Jamaica to study nursing in London, England in 1961. She qualified as a State Registered Nurse (SNR), and then went on to specialize in midwifery. After finishing her training, she headed to Canada. There…

Unravelling, The

The Unravelling: Incest and the Destruction of a FamilyPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Toby A. Welch$21.95 ISBN 9780889778436 As the title suggests, this fantastic read is about how a family deals with the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse across generations . But this book isn’t just about abuse and retribution. It also delves into the dynamics of a marriage, the struggles of parenthood, and the delicate balance of friendships, among many other topics. It even touches on faith and the church. It is a fascinating story that pulls you in right from the get-go.  So we don’t need a Spoiler Alert label at the top of this review, I won’t go into the details about how the decades of abuse and the subsequent quest for justice went. But I will say that I’d wager that Besel had no idea how extreme the highs and lows would be that she encountered along her journey. It was a wild ride! As the chapters flew by, I was triggered by how many people wanted Besel to drop her quest for justice just because the person who abused her was in a questionable state. Should someone not be penalized for their actions…

Stories from the Churchill
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 22 December 2021

Stories from the ChurchillWritten by Ric Driediger, with Illustrations by Paul MasonPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9-781988-783727 Ric Driediger’s positively reverent when he writes about the beauty and challenges inherent in canoeing Saskatchewan’s vast northern waterways. The owner/operator of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in Missinipe, SK may already be known to readers—and fellow canoeists—through his first book, Paddling Northern Saskatchewan: A Guide to 80 Canoe Routes. Now this knowledgeable paddler has penned Stories from the Churchill, and he describes it as “the book [he] wanted to write” whereas the earlier book was the one he “needed” to write. There’s a difference. What comes through the page is that Driediger’s doing exactly what he was meant to, both professionally and personally, and he knows just how fortunate he is. Even if you never intend to canoe across a morning-calm lake, brave big-lake wind and river rapids, portage through “swampy muskeg,” lose yourself in the boreal wilderness, “go solo” (“a spiritual experience”), or winter camp, this book will inform and entertain you. It’s well-written in a conversational tone, and includes anecdotes from Driediger’s own adventures and stories from his clients’ and staff’s experiences, too. Driediger’s a…

Sixty and Beyond
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 22 December 2021

Sixty and Beyond: Looking Forward – Looking Backby Alison R. MontgomeryPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$14.95 ISBN 978-1-988783734 When contemplating her retirement, Alison Montgomery’s mother gave her some wise advice: “Travelling, going to the lake, walking the dog and working out are what you do on a vacation. Retirement lasts a long time, and you would be wise to find some form of purposeful work.” Alison took that to heart. After retiring as a high school art teacher, she decided to study further and become involved in adult education. These days she also continues to enjoy her passion as a landscape artist, plays the flute and piccolo in various community ensembles and enjoys a newfound delight for paddle boarding. Sixty and Beyond is a reflection of Alison’s life — past, present and future. As she puts it: “The great thing about this stage of life is that you get to reflect on what has worked well for you so far and what has not and decide if you will keep it or throw it.” This is Alison’s third book. In 2001 her life came to a grinding halt when her son Chris died in a climbing accident….

Don’t They Kick When You Do That?
DriverWorks Ink / 10 December 2021

Don’t They KICK When You Do That? Stories of a Prairie Veterinarianby Dr. Gary HoiumPublished by DriverWorks InkReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.95 ISBN 9-781927-570746 While conducting author visits in schools over the decades, I’d often ask students what they wanted to be when they grew up, and, invariably, veterinarian was a top response. I understand that. Who doesn’t love animals? Interestingly, Dr. Gary Hoium—veterinarian and author of Don’t They KICK When You Do That? Stories of a Prairie Veterinarian—never intended to become a vet. It was “never a goal or an ambition of mine while I was growing up in rural Saskatchewan,” he explains in his just-published collection of experiences as a mixed-animal veterinarian and clinic owner in Weyburn. Instead, Dr. Hoium had his hopes set on an NHL career, but when that and medical school admission attempts failed, he applied to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and was soon on his way to becoming a vet for the next 36 years. His conversational stories about animal patients (and their humans) are shared over 41 short chapters, many of them humourous. The cover image of this conversationally-toned book shows a smiling Dr. Hoium at work: left hand holding up…

Peacekeeper’s Daughter
Thistledown Press / 8 December 2021

Peacekeeper’s Daughter: A Middle East Memoirby Tanya Bellehumeur-AllattPublished by Thistledown PressReview by Toby A. Welch$24.95 ISBN 9781771872164  The coming-of-age memoir Peacekeeper’s Daughter is impossible to put down once it sucks you in. Told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old Canadian Army brat who is dropped into the Lebanese Civil War in 1982-1983, we are immersed into the heart of the Palestinian crisis. Alongside Bellehumeur-Allatt, we travel from Yellowknife to Jerusalem to Tiberias, Israel, eventually landing in Beirut, Lebanon. The book wraps up by going full circle with a return to Canada. Bellehumeur-Allatt does a phenomenal job of making the musings of her preteen self interesting.  Bellehumeur-Allatt was able to vividly recount the details of her life back in the 1980s thanks to a gift. Just before leaving Canada to head to the Middle East, the mother of her best friend gave her a blank journal wrapped in shiny paper. The mom told Bellehumeur-Allatt: “Write everything down, all the details. One day it’ll be a book.” In response, Bellehumeur-Allatt promised her she would. The mom likely had no idea that her serendipitous gift would lead to a potentially award-winning book forty years later. The details in this book make the reader…

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