By Robert MacBain
Reviewed by Jon Muldoon
With the Truth and Reconciliation commission, international calls to clean up contaminated drinking water in Northern Ontario’s Grassy Narrows and a provincial focus on fighting suicide in remote First Nations communities, the timing has never been better to take a look at the current state of aboriginal affairs.
Enter Robert MacBain and his latest book, Their Home and Native Land. The book ranges back and forth through the troubled and troubling history of relations between settlers and First Nations, covering history from hundreds of years ago, through to the 1990s when former journalist MacBain, working variously in public relations and communications for government departments, found himself in several northern communities.
Much of Native Land is based on first-hand interviews with Ojibways, Cree and Mohawks living on remote reserves, many of whom share openly with MacBain their thoughts on the preservation of their traditional ways of life, despite the best (or worst?) efforts of past governments.
The changes in those traditions from the 1950s to present day are covered, with extensive commentary from people who lived through those changes. Some reserves have benefited, while others have suffered.
Throughout the book, MacBain adds context to the history and current state of affairs with the insight unique to a political insider. Anyone willing to read beyond the latest headlines, or who wants to add some context to them, will find Their Home and Native Land a compelling read.
Reviewed by Anna Killen
“I sincerely hope the message of unconditional love will touch hearts both young and old,” signs author and Olympian Elaine Tanner on the inside cover of her first children’s book, Monkey Guy and the Cosmic Fairy, a tale about a quirky, warm-hearted toy monkey and the love shared between him and his person.
A competitive swimmer from a very young age, Tanner, nicknamed “Mighty Mouse of the Pool” was named Canada’s greatest athlete in 1966 – at 15, she was the youngest person to have received that title – and the country’s top athlete overall after winning four gold medals at the 1966 Commonwealth Games. She would go on to win three Olympic medals at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, be made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
But from such high beginnings, Tanner’s life saw times of heavy hardship. Hard times that could only be remedied by love – the love of her husband, Beacher John Watt, and learning to trust and love herself. Her personal journey can be read on her several websites, but it’s clear from Monkey Guy that Tanner has not only healed from her hardships – but is passionate about sharing the lessons she’s learned with others.
With bright, evocative drawings by Denis Proulx, Tanner’s story of Monkey Guy, his boy Lewis, a cosmic fairy, and other magical helpers is a hopeful, whimsical story with realistic life lessons, sure to touch hearts both young and old.