Dec 192018
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A paste-together of information about a superb book.
I happened to read “The Haida Gwaii Lesson; A Strategic Playbook for Indigenous Sovereignty” (2017), by Mark Dowie.  It’s short, and very interesting.  Read about it at:

The “Lesson” turned out to be a primer for the next book that kind of fell into my lap, a riveting story well told – – read about it below.  And about its remarkable author, Arthur Manuel, at

“Unsettling Canada”, excerpts; Also, the obituary of its’ author Arthur Manuel.

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From Good Reads:


“There is room on this land for all of us and there must also be, after centuries of struggle, room for justice for Indigenous peoples. That is all we ask. And we will settle for nothing less.”  Arthur Manuel


“All the government has to do to begin real and substantive negotiations with Indigenous peoples is to follow the recommendations of its own Royal Commission, which repudiated the racist and internationally discredited doctrine of discovery and recognized our right to self-determination.”  Arthur Manuel


Scott Neigh

An important book by an important Indigenous movement leader who died unexpectedly at the beginning of the year. A mix of history, memoir, and analysis. Well written, very readable. A great window into some of the most important political events in this country in the last half century, and some political ideas that will be crucial as we collectively shape the next half century. And though it wasn’t at all news to me, I still felt quite affected by his matter-of-fact presentation of the relentlessly awful colonial behaviour of the Canadian state — no less now than in his father’s generation, even if the tactics and rhetoric have changed some, and no less under Trudeau’s suave Liberals than when Harper’s ham-fisted and more openly racist Conservatives were at the helm. A must-read for any settler serious about supporting Indigenous struggles and about seeking a version of reconciliation that isn’t just a re-packaging of colonialism.


Jane Kirby rated it –  it was amazing

I read this because Idle No More was urging people to.  I didn’t expect I would

1) learn so much or

2) find it so engaging and interesting.

This should be required reading.


Claire Thompson rated it – really liked it

I learned a lot about first nations issues (land claims, Gustafson Lake standoff, the Oka Crisis, P. Trudeau’s White Paper, protest at Todd Mountain/Sun Peaks) . . .

Alan rated it – it was amazing

If you’re afraid of the future you should read this book. This book holds lessons for all non-indigenous people, and every one of us needs to read this to understand that the future can be a place where justice can happen for us all.


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Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call by Arthur Manuel and Chief Ronald Derrickson describes the victories and failures, the hopes and the fears of a generation of activists fighting for Aboriginal title and rights in Canada.  Unsettling Canada chronicles the modern struggle for Indigenous rights covering fifty years of struggle over a wide range of historical, national, and recent international breakthroughs.

Arthur Manuel has participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues since its inception in 2002. Since 2003, he has served as spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET). Working through INET, Manuel succeeded in having the struggle for Aboriginal title and treaty rights injected into international financial institutions, setting important precedents for Aboriginal title and rights in Canada. Manuel is a spokesperson for the Defenders of the Land.

Author of the book’s Afterword, Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson has been elected chief of his Westbank First Nation six times and is one of the most successful First Nations business people in Canada. He was made a Grand Chief by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs in recognition of a lifetime of political and economic leadership.  Naomi Klein provides the Foreword.

The volume has the occasional black and white photograph, references, and an index. This is an important contribution to the current literature about First Nations’ perspectives on their roles in the political and sovereignty movements across Canada from the 1950s, the White Paper, the Red Paper, Constitution Express, Oka, RCAP, Delgamuukw, Sun Peaks, international lobbying, the Fourth World, and Idle No More.  An important call to action for all Canadians from a respected First Nation leader and activist.


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