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Taking advantage of James Daschuk coming to Ottawa to receive Sir John A. Macdonald Prize from Governor General for his book Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, we are honoured to host a book launch with James and with our friend, Rick Harp, who is co-founder of INDIGENA Creative Group and editor-in-chief for MEDIA INDIGENA. Rick is also a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan.
The irony is after revealing Sir John A. Macdonald's dirty secret—he starved Aboriginal peoples and forced them onto reserves in order to settle the West and pave the way for the Canadian Pacific Railway —the very book that launched a devastating critique of his policies has won the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize.
In arresting, but harrowing, prose, James Daschuk examines the roles that Old World diseases, climate, and, most disturbingly, Canadian politics—the politics of ethnocide—played in the deaths and subjugation of thousands of Aboriginal peoples in the realization of Sir John A. Macdonald’s “National Dream.” It was a dream that came at great expense: the present disparity in health and economic well-being between First Nations and non-Native populations, and the lingering racism and misunderstanding that permeates the national consciousness to this day.
“Clearing the Plains is a tour de force that dismantles and destroys the view that Canada has a special claim to humanity in its treatment of indigenous peoples. Daschuk shows how infectious disease and state-supported starvation combined to create a creeping, relentless catastrophe that persists to the present day. The prose is gripping, the analysis is incisive, and the narrative is so chilling that it leaves its reader stunned and disturbed. For days after reading it, I was unable to shake a profound sense of sorrow. This is fearless, evidence-driven history at its finest.” Elizabeth A. Fenn, author of Pox Americana
Along with winning the Canadian Historical Association's (CHA) top prize at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held at Brock University, Clearing the Plains has won the Clio Award for Prairie History, the CHA Aboriginal History Book Prize, and five Saskatchewan Book Awards.
Named a book of the year by the Globe & Mail, it said Clearing the Plains "should make us question what it means to be Canadian." As we approach the 200th anniversary of Macdonald's birth, will these revelations about our first prime minister alter our perceptions of the man—and of ourselves?
More on Clearing the Plains: https://www.facebook.com/ClearingThePlains
Saturday Nov. 1, 2014
Geneva Hall at Knox Presbyterian Church
120 Lisgar St, Ottawa, ON
** Snacks and refreshment will be served.
This event is sponsored by University of Regina Press and KAIROS Canada.
** Paperback version of the book will be available for sale.
James Daschuk has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Manitoba. He is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina and a researcher with the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit.