This was our first Covid-19 Pandemic Zoom meeting.
Most of us were able to gather virtually and all went pretty well using our new technology. Much needed time together to discuss the book and education and reconciliation and also were able to show off our bread making and get caught up on how all are doing during this ‘interesting’ time. Erin we missed having your insights about this book.
Thanks Ann for all the effort you put into last night’s meeting. I enjoyed the video links especially although as Jane said, I also found the story very sad and disturbing. Another compelling read, a memoir, written by Terese Marie Mailhot, is Heart Berries https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/04/heart-berries-by-terese-marie-mailhot-review. Equally sad, and perhaps even more disturbing.
It was featured in the NYT monthly book club and was recommended by Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild)
I did miss everyone’s physicality but was surprised at how intimate our Zoom meeting turned out to be. It was good to see everyone smiling, healthy and engaged (as always!) in the conversation. Sorry you were not able to be with us Erin. And of course I missed the food… Too bad the technology hasn’t advanced to the point where as in Star Trek, they had a food replicator.
Jill perhaps you could get Dave to build something in time for our next get together?
Thanks to Ann for preparing so much background information for our bookclub meeting and thanks to Jeanne for setting it up. I was surprised at how smoothly everything went and it was certainly nice to see and hear you all. I will endeavour to find out what novels are on the grade 10-12 reading list, although most English teachers allow independent novel study, so students typically choose their own and have it approved. I found that I was swept up in Jared’s life and found his story compelling and really enjoyed the mystical elements. All we can really do is open our minds and hearts to the indigenous stories and learn to listen.
I was lying awake last night mulling over our meeting, I usually do after book club, and thinking about Jared and the daunting pressures he had to deal with. Deep down he was really a decent and kind person, fighting against all odds. My heart went out to him when he was helping the elderly couple as best he could, and the wife in particular seemed to understand him. He needed that little bit of confidence and reassurance. He had little else. The love between him and his mother was there deep down, but she was fighting her own internal demons, and so was Jared. Talk about survival of the fittest.
I felt the parallel of the lives/lifestyle between the first link that Ann gave us, and that of Jared’s. I loved how the drumming of music entered their senses and became their solace.
I wonder, if each of us would be asked, what it is that calms, nurtures and settles our senses.
I know for my own mother it was music, and birdsong. I feel that in me as well….and illustrated books of Flower Fairies…don’t laugh, it’s true.
A great book. There are times when books written for young adults are so much more real. I found that I could really connect with Jared and was cheering him on even when his life seemed so messed up. The trickster is such a challenging concept. Usually we encounter the wise one in western literature. The trickster is just the opposite. Those crows caused mayhem and out of the mayhem came learning and wisdom. I will search back to the Trickster stories I used many years ago with my Grade 6 classes.
In the event that any of you wish to do some further non-fiction reading about historical relations between Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada, the following is a list of books that were recommended to me not long ago. I know that you will find the descriptions to be daunting, but they do truly represent the many examples of how Canada betrayed and lost the trust of indigenous peoples – beyond the residential school policy, and how that trust may never return until they have more of say in their own destinies:
Lost Harvests; by Sarah Carter
Agriculture on Plains Indian reserves is generally thought to have failed because the Indigenous people lacked either an interest in farming or an aptitude for it. In Lost Harvests Sarah Carter reveals that reserve residents were anxious to farm and expended considerable effort on cultivation; government policies, more than anything else, acted to undermine their success. Despite repeated requests for assistance from Plains Indians, the Canadian government provided very little help between 1874 and 1885, and what little they did give proved useless.
An Error in Judgement; by Dara Culhane (Speck)On January 22, 1979, an eleven-year-old Native girl died of a ruptured appendix in an Alert Bay, B.C. hospital. The events that followed are chronicled here by Dara Culhane Speck, a member by marriage of the Nimpkish Indian Band in Alert Bay. She has relied mainly on interviews, anecdotes and public records to describe how this small, isolated Native community took on the local hospital, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, provincial and federal ministries of health and national media, because their private tragedy held implications that reached far beyond one child, one physician, one town and even one century.
The Pleasure of the Crown; by Dara CulhaneA comprehensive look at how Canadian, particularly British Columbian, society “reveals itself” through its courtroom performances in Aboriginal title litigation. Focusing in particular on the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en case, the book traces the trial of Delgamuukw. v. Regina from 1987 and 1991 to its successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which issued a landmark ruling in 1997. (fyi. the Delgamuukw decision was probably the most important case to be settled in Canada in terms of Indigenous relations.)
A Poison Stronger than Love; by Anastasia M. ShkilnykThis book documents the human costs of massive and extraordinarily rapid change in a people’s way of life. When well-intentioned bureaucrats relocated the Grassy Narrows band to a new reserve in 1963, the results were the unraveling of the tribe’s social fabric and a sharp deterioration in their personal morale – dramatically reflected in Shkilnyk’s statistics on violent death, illness, and family breakdown. The book explores the origins and causes of the suffering in the community life and describes the devastating impacts of mercury contamination on the health and livelihood of the Indian people.
Strangers Devoured the Land; by Boyce RichardsonThe long struggle of the Crees of James Bay in northern Quebec—a hunting and trapping people—to defend the territories they have occupied since time immemorial, came to international attention in 1972 when they tried by legal action to stop the immense hydro-electric project the provincial government was proposing to build around them.
As Long as the Rivers Run; by James Waldram
In past treaties, the Aboriginal people of Canada surrendered title to their lands in return for guarantees that their traditional ways of life would be protected. Since the 1950s, governments have reneged on these commitments in order to acquire more land and water for hydroelectric development. James B. Waldram examines this controversial topic through an analysis of the politics of hydroelectric dam construction in the Canadian Northwest, focusing on three Aboriginal communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Unjust Relations: Aboriginal Rights in Canadian Courts; by Peter KulchyskiA little dry, but this book provides a collection of eight Supreme Court decisions concerning aboriginal rights. The cases, which span from 1888 to 1990, demonstrate the development of the legal value of aboriginal rights in Canada and help readers understand how recent court decisions were influenced by those in thepast.
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens; by J.R. MillerThis one is more of a history book. A comprehensive account of Native-newcomer relations throughout Canada’s history. Author J.R. Miller charts the deterioration of the relationship from the initial, mutually beneficial contact in the fur trade to the current displacement and marginalization of the Indigenous population.
Custer Died for Your Sins; by Vine DeloriaThis book dates back to 1969 and was noteworthy for its relevance to the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement and other activist organizations, such as the American Indian Movement, which was beginning to expand. Deloria’s book encouraged better use of federal funds aimed at helping Native Americans. Vine Deloria, Jr. presents Native Americans in a humorous light, devoting an entire chapter to Native American humor. Custer Died for Your Sins was significant in its presentation of Native Americans as a people who were able to retain their tribal society and morality, while existing in the modern world.