Articles Reviews

  • Historical foundations of Aboriginal rights

    Having long ago established himself as a foremost scholarly interlocutor of Canadian Indigenous history, Arthur Ray, with a career that spans those ’70s books on my shelf (two magisterial studies: Indians in the Fur Trade and with Donald Freeman Give Us Good Measure) to new books including Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History, one would have thought he would be happy with what could be called “vanity projects.”

  • Addiction among the middle class

    In recent years, my newsfeed has played host to a steady trickle of articles documenting the alarming rise of opioid addiction rates in North America. Described by political pundits as a “quiet epidemic,” the explosion in the use and abuse of pharmaceutical opioids — substances with clinical names like oxycodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone — has gone largely unnoticed, media coverage often limited to celebrity overdoses and litanies of dreary statistics.

  • Exploring settler-colonial culture

    Lowman and Barker’s Settler really dwells on the dominant culture in Canada as a settler-colonial culture. Hence it is not “about” Indigenous peoples per se, but rather the bad faith of a culture constructed on ongoing colonial dispossessions. It is my own view that we do not yet have a fully developed theory of the specificity of settler colonialism, though such a theory no doubt is coming and can be found in nascent forms in earlier writing on colonialism.

  • First choice for a younger generation

    No doubt for a younger generation of activists, Palmater’s Indigenous Nationhood will be a first choice. Her cadences — and anger — capture the mood of an emerging generation of social justice, broadly Left-oriented, ground level activists. When she writes that one of her goals is to “help us kick the colonizers out of our heads,” (4-5) she puts her finger on an enduring problem within and around Indigenous social movements.

  • Criminal law ejects Indigenous peoples from the frontiers

    The book breaks from the constant examination of Indigenous peoples and instead rests its gaze on settler society and the system that upholds their material privileges. The focus on the justice system and its use of criminalization in the private property protection of the settlers reveals something important about the dominant economic systems operating in these two countries: there is, in fact, no “Indian Problem,” but rather a very real settler problem.

  • One girl’s trauma exposes plight of nations

    I received Indigenous author Katherena Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, as a gift over the holiday season. Having heard nothing of it, little did I know, upon turning its opening pages, that I would be carried from the comforts of my Winnipeg south-end suburban home into the north-end community where I had spent the previous two years working as a school counsellor to some of our Prairie city’s most vulnerable youth.

  • Mothers of colour challenge white feminism

    This book covers so much and ought to be read in its entirety. Much originally came from Reproductive Justice, first organized by African American feminists in 1994. They transformed the singular focus on abortion rights to include the right to become a mother and the “right to parent our children in safe and healthy environments.

  • Review: I Am Not Your Negro

    Now and then, and despite its capitalist and racial biases, our culture throws up something that can speak quite eloquently and uniquely about the times we’re living through. In this case, I’m referring to an amazing documentary film that has been released recently, I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck, an acclaimed Haitian director with major films to his credit. This latest work is well worth seeing and has been well received here.

  • Essays on Indigenous struggles offer both insight and oversight

    Indigenous occupations are thus not simply a breach of Canadian legal orders but also a reassertion of Indigenous law. Unfortunately, too often the focus of Blockades or Breakthroughs on intricate conflicts within Indigenous communities obscures the larger contest with colonialism that underlies Indigenous peoples’ adoption of direct action.

  • ‘People’s history’ brought to life with voices from vibrant era

    A Future Without Hate or Need is largely a “people’s history,” social history from the bottom up. Perhaps it is the “warmth of the ghetto,” a once-familiar phrase, that makes this study of leaders and followers seem whole cloth. Too rarely do we see these kinds of precious, personal insights into the lives of activists outside of oral histories.

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