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review 2018-11-06 01:49
A dispassionate, factual account of cultural genocide against First Nations in Canada

 

 

Residential schools operated in Canada for a hundred years and about one hundred and fifty thousand First Nations children were forcibly removed from their parents and their communities and sent to them. The philosophy of these institutions was to kill the Indian in the child so they could better assimilate into white society.

 

It’s been well documented, indeed even Prime Minister Trudeau has apologized for the physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse these children endured for the ten years they were enrolled.

 

What isn’t understood is that as well as losing a normal childhood they also lost coping mechanisms, trust, a sense of safety and belonging and future parenting skills. For generations there was a cycle of remove children from their family, culture and support systems; shame, punish and abuse them; and then return them to parents who had undergone the same treatment.

 

If you don’t have this information, and other information about the cultural genocide perpetrated by the Canadian government, supported at least indirectly by the Canadian people than you cannot begin to understand the struggle of First Nations people in Canada.

 

I didn’t and now I do, thanks to Lynda Gray’s book, First Nations 101.

 

In a readable and dispassionate voice, Gray, a member of the Tsimshian Nation and Executive Director of the Urban Native Youth Assoc. in Vancouver, Canada, lays it all out and it’s horrific, unjustifiable and unresolved.

 

Chapters include identity, social control, community issues, fairness and justice, taxation, health and wellness and arts.

 

Apologies and commissions aside, First Nations still struggle with poverty and discrimination which are born out by statistics including Indigenous adults representing 4.1 percent of the of the total Canadian adult population — but 26 percent of adults in federal custody.

 

As they begin to recover from the effects of our assimilation policies and decades of intergenerational trauma all they ask is that they receive justice and fairness and for us to get out of their way so they can get on with the healing and rebuilding of their culture.

 

At the end of the book, Gray describes what needs to be done by the Canadian government and Canadians individually, and First Nations themselves if both sides are really interested in truth and reconciliation.

 

Reading First Nations 101 is a good first step.

 

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review 2018-07-03 03:29
Season 1 Wraps Up in a Strong and Sufficient Manner -- but will leave the audience wanting more
All the Nations of the Sky - Underwood, Michael R.

I'm going to try to keep my thoughts to this episode, but I won't promise that I'll succeed.

 

Somewhere between episodes 10 and 11 Michiko made a pretty big decision. Okay, she made a huge decision -- and we only get to see the result, not the thought process -- this is annoying, but I can live with it, if I have to (and, by the by, we know she found something in the paperwork that her predecessor left of interest to the current goings-on, but we're not told what, this also is annoying). Part of the story-telling style that <b>Born to the Blade</b> is employing leaves us open to this kind of thing, so it's to be expected -- I'm just not crazy about it. Still, while I'm excited for what this means for Michiko, her nation, and the narrative opportunities for Season 2, I do regret what it means for some of the character interaction I've been enjoying all along. That's all I'll say about that now.

 

Also, I couldn't help but feel that some of the progress made between Kris and Adechike last week has been walked back a bit -- some of which I understand, most of which I want explained before I can get on board wholly. But I don't see that happening. Still, I liked (both as a fan and as someone who's trying to look at the series through an armchair-critical eye) what both Adechike and Kris did throughout this episode.

 

We got a long-awaited duel in this episode (like last episode), it didn't end the way my fan-boy impulses wanted it to, but did end the way it needed to. It's the kind of thing I think I expected the series to be built on -- and if a certain little war hadn't happened, probably would have.

 

Every jot and tittle about Ojo in this episode was perfect, and I wouldn't change a thing. I can't say any more, but this was spot-on.

 

I'm not sure what else to say at this point without venturing into spoiler territory, so I guess I'll wrap it up.

 

Now, it's easy -- very easy -- to forget about one nation of the seven -- Tsukisen, and their warder, Hii no Taro. Yes, it's explained a few times -- but anytime Tsukisen is mentioned, it only seems to underline how often they aren't. This can be improved -- Underwood had a great opportunity here to fix that, and he passed. Which is okay, he's not the only one who had the opportunity, and I can only assume that this means that there's a plan behind it. I do hope that's rectified quickly in Season 2. And this point probably belongs more to the season-long wrap up post I'm trying to do, but I wanted to get it down before I forgot.

 

This has been dubbed as "Season 1" since the beginning, so we knew everything wasn't going to wrap up nicely. In fact, there's <i>a lot</i> that's left hanging. But we got enough resolution to leave readers satisfied with where things left off. I do hope that Serial Box gives this team another shot to tell their story because I'm very curious about a few things and characters. But for now, we're left with an optimistic, but not a rose-colored glasses, ending -- true to the vision of the initial episodes, but with a darker undercurrent than one might have guessed from the first couple of installments. I'm not wholly sold on everything that happened this season, but I've come to accept and appreciate 96% of it -- and I will probably come around on the rest eventually.

 

A good story, a good cap to the season and a good launching point for a potential Season 2. I'm just going to stop before I say "good" again -- pick up season 1 now, if you haven't yet.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/07/02/born-to-the-blade-1-11-all-the-nations-of-the-sky-by-michael-underwood-season-1-wraps-up-in-a-strong-and-sufficient-manner-but-will-leave-the-audience-wanting-more
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review 2018-02-15 19:11
Informative and Terrifying!
The Korean Crisis: One People, Two Natio... The Korean Crisis: One People, Two Nations, A World On The Brink - Jack Van Der Slik

Very informative! And timely! And terrifying! The author presents an interesting, well written book on the current crisis in North Korea. He delves into the history of the Korean peninsula, in a clear and easily understood manner. Into the Korean War. It's causes, and which world leaders were involved. How, after the war, North and South Korea developed, and how they got to the state that they are in today. And the history of the current North Korean leadership, it's quirks and goals. And why China continues to support the Kim regime, and why the US and Japan support South Korea.
The author ends with his thoughts on the future of the Korean peninsula. While he does not (no one can) predict the long term future, he does identify several factors that can affect the future. In his opinion, the only way to peace is through intercession by China, and responsive negotiations by South Korea, Japan, and the US. Without which, we risk a nuclear disaster.
This is a frightening book. You will not sleep well after reading it. But it is important to know what we are up against. Let's all hope and pray that it ends well.

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review 2017-12-20 19:55
Canadian classic storybook with lovely art
Baseball Bats for Christmas - Michael Kusugak

Disclaimer: review based off of NetGalley proof

 

I have a feeling I must have read this as a kid; seems to be a rerelease of a book from the '90s. Definitely has that nostalgic feel either way. There's a strong storytelling tone to it, and it's more storybook length than picture book. I'd recommend for early readers, elementary schoolers, or as a read-aloud to toddlers. Lovely, painterly art supports the story of a remote Canadian-Inuit community sometime last century. Fits in with other historical fiction efforts that convey a sense of a simpler time, making your own fun, community and family. The snowy landscape and Christmas references could make it a good holiday gift for children, and I could see it being a teaching tool as well for discussions of Canada's past, the experience of remote communities and First Nations.

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review 2017-11-22 20:20
Surprisingly entertaining Canadian & Cree First Nations read about overcoming your past and owning your power.
Strangers - David Alexander Robertson

Disclaimers: I'm reviewing an uncorrected proof ebook version acquired via NetGalley, I'm choosing to leave an unbiased review, and I'm not qualified to comment in-depth on aboriginal representation.

 

More disclaimers: Um, so I just want to note for the record that I already named characters Cole and Ash in BLIND THE EYES before I read this book. No plagiarism. I guess Canadian authors just think alike? lol.

 

I loved this WAY more than I expected to. To get a few critiques out of the way, the cover looks a little off to me (more indie or MG maybe?), so I wasn't expecting a lot of polish. The first few pages are also a little disorienting, because the author launches with a different perspective from the main POV, incorporates supernatural elements immediately without explanation, and references past events without backstory at first. All of which turns out to be great in the scope of the story, but it feels like jumping in the deep end.

 

This is the story of a 17yo Cree First Nations teen who left his rural home community in elementary school and is attending high school in Winnipeg at the time the story opens. A supernatural being is trying to lure him back to his hometown. His aunt and grandmother don't want him to return for reasons that aren't explained at first, but we discover that there's past trauma and bullying to contend with. Cole also has some superior abilities that may be more than natural. There's a lot going on in the plot:

 

-trickster spirits, ghosts, unexplained supernatural/paranormal phenomena
-murder mystery/thriller
-romance? maybe?
-bullying, trauma & clinical anxiety (incl. struggles with medication)
-rural vs. city enmities/tension
-First Nations/aboriginal experience (on/off reserve, resourcing, discrimination)

 

As a Canadian, and as someone who actually lived in Winnipeg during her childhood, there was a lot that felt familiar in this, including issues raised that I'm not sure if a foreign reader would pick up on or not. The author (based on his Goodreads bio) does live in Winnipeg and is a member of a Cree First Nation, so this is an #ownvoices book with (to the best of my knowledge) good representation.

 

I liked how the struggles that First Nations people experience within Canadian society were included within the scope of the story, but that the focus was on the characters and their experiences. It can be hard to write good fiction that represents real-world issues without breaking character or bogging down/diverting the plot (see: preachy dystopias for one), so I thought Robertson did an excellent job of including accurate world-building in service of the story. For instance, there are medical emergencies in the scope of the story, and it's referenced a few times how help is requested but the government takes a long time to respond, ignores the pleas, or doesn't send the help needed in a timely manner. Remote communities struggle for resources and lose people to the cities where there's more opportunity, jobs etc.

 

Some Cree words are used (and translated in place), some ritual and beliefs are incorporated, but the narrative doesn't suffer at all from the exoticisation of aboriginal culture. (Though maybe American readers will feel like it's "exotic" Canadian culture?) If anything, the hockey-playing, tiny-remote-community, one-restaurant-in-town setting felt so recognizable to me that it would have been boring if not for the strong character writing and murdery-plot.

 

Cole and his friends are relatable as teenagers struggling with a variety of issues: tragic pasts, tension with childhood friendships left behind, current identity and past identity, sexual identity and relationships, trust issues with adults who're keeping secrets . . . Also, the writing of "Choch" the trickster-spirit was hilarious. That's probably what tipped this story from a good read to "when's the sequel coming out?" for me. His clowning felt instantly recognizable and, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious. It was a great counterpoint to the dark thriller plot that could have headed into way more emo territory without him.

 

I'm totally down for reading a sequel/series about a Canadian First Nations teen with superpowers and his trickster spirit sidekick/tormenter/guide/whatever.

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