Friday, June 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: June

Who is Nicola Campbell?  "Named after her home, British Columbia's Nicola Valley, children's book author Nicola Campbell is Interior Salish on her mother's side and M├ętis from Saskatchewan on her father's side. Nicola currently lives in North Vancouver, B.C. with her son. She is completing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

Nicola writes adult and children's short fiction, poetry and has several works in progress including another free-verse picture book. She loves the outdoors; biking and hiking and has been participating in traditional cedar dug-out canoe racing for eleven years. She has a strong respect and an absolute belief in First Nation's spirituality, culture and tradition."

In the author's own words:
"I heard an elder speak of the importance of our languages and our culture. He said that our words are powerful; our stories are elastic; our languages are music: they dance, they move and they are medicine for our people. He said they are a spirit within themselves and we are only the channel that brings them to life. I write because I know what he said is true.  Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi's Canoe are inspired by stories that I heard from my family, elders and community. As a child, I didn't understand why my mom, aunties and uncles and the elders in our community were taken away. I didn't understand why as children, they weren't allowed to speak — Indian. I knew that because of what my grandparents went through, they did not teach my mom or aunts and uncles to speak Nlekepmxcin and this was a common decision among many parents at that time. As children, my cousins and I could not fathom why all First Nations children everywhere were taken from their parents and forced to attend these schools. These two books are my efforts to illustrate these two children finding strength and resilience within themselves along with finding as many adventures as they could find." - from www.strongnations.com

  Book Summary: In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.
She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world -- the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.  Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system. - from amazon.ca

Book Summary: When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can't speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river — a sign that it’s almost time to return home. This poignant story about a devastating chapter in First Nations history is told at a child’s level of understanding. - from amazon.ca



My Thoughts: I loved these two beautiful, gently told children's books. I would happily sit and read these with my 7 year old, but can just as easily see using these to introduce the topic of Residential Schools with a middle grade or junior high class.  What I like about these books is that they focus on the children's strength, resilience, strong family bonds, strong communities and the value of their culture and beliefs.  As much as we need stories that show the horrors, brutality and injustice of Residential schools, we also need to be reminded that these children weren't just subject TO something spirit-crushing, but that they were also removed FROM something nurturing and spiritual.

That said, we don't have to agree with their spiritual teachings and we don't have to condemn the religious beliefs of those who ran the schools - but we need to recognize that these children had homes, families and communities... the damage done extends far beyond the occasional abused child or an isolated case of a runaway here and there.

These are beautiful books that can be an important part of teaching our children about "our home on Native land". 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

June 2018: Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Meeting Details: We'll be meeting on 
Thursday, June 28th at Tessa's house.

Discussion Questions:

1) Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?

2) The story is told as a first person narrative. How do you react to Saul? Do your attitudes to him change during the novel, and if so, what brings about these changes?

3) To which character(s) in the novel, other than Saul, do you react most strongly? Reflect on your reactions and the possible reasons for them

4) The novel vividly describes the effects on Saul when he is sent to a residential school: “I read once that there are holes in the universe that swallow all light, all bodies. St. Jerome’s took all the light from my world”(43)   How did reading the novel change your understanding of the residential school system and its lasting effects?

5) “One who loves does not brandish fear or require it” (26) What insights into Aboriginal spirituality do you gain from the novel? “Where is God now, then?” I asked (92)  Where do you find God in this story?

6) Richard Wagamese writes poetically about hockey, describing it as the “snow white stage”. What does hockey mean to Saul? Are all his hockey experiences positive? 

7) Racism is a very grim reality for Saul.  Give a few examples of racism in the book - how does Saul react to this racism?  While it is tempting to believe that these attitudes are no longer prevalent, examples can be found in many places. Reflect on examples of stereotyping or racism that you have experienced directly, have heard about from friends, or have witnessed in the media or other sources.

8) Richard Wagamese is an accomplished storyteller who has performed across the country. Was there one example of excellent story-telling in the book that you found particularly effective?

9) In reading Indian Horse, what did you learn about Indigenous peoples in Canada that you did not know before? 

10) “They scooped out our insides, Saul. We are not responsible for that. We are not responsible for what happened to us. None of us are,” Fred said. “But our healing – that’s up to us.” (210) What you do think "reconciliation" means?  How can we as individuals, Christians and as Canadians, be part of the healing?

11) What role does redemption play in Indian Horse?   The book begins with the idea of storytelling: “They say I can’t understand where I’m going if I don’t understand where I’ve been . . .”(2)   How does story-telling play a role in redemption?

12) Richard Wagamese has said that Indian Horse “…was a story clamoring to be told in a way that was empowering – that was not preachy, threatening or guilt inducing.” Do you feel Indian Horse is, in fact, a story told in a way that is empowering and not preachy, threatening or guilt inducing? Why or why not?

13) Would would recommend this book?  To whom and why or why not?

Many of the questions taken from www.amnestybookclub.ca 
(which also has some good background info about the book, if you're interested) and http://manitouconference.ca/img/Gillian-Indian-Horse.pdf 



Menu: Ma's First Rule is Food.

Martha Kelly believes in feeding growing boys well... the food's not fancy, but it's simple stick-to-your ribs fare made with what's locally available.  Her husband says about her: "Ma's first rule is food.  She cooks up a storm too."  And every serious hockey player knows that a meal should have as many parts as a hockey game!

For a smaller crowd, we may want to consider skipping the second period and going straight from First Period appetizers to Third Period desserts!

First Period:
Potato, Leek and Bacon Soup
Bannock

Second Period:
Fried fish
Fried onions and potatoes
Baked beans (canned is fine!)
Fresh bread
Pickles

Third Period:
Blueberry Cobbler
Ice Cream

Overtime: 
Chocolate Brownies
Coffee/tea

Reminder: Please take a few minutes to check out our book choices for Sept-December (posted below) so that we can choose books at the June meeting. 

Looking Ahead: Sept 2018 - Feb 2019

Here are some choices for Sept-December... we'll decide on these books at our June meeting so if you're unable to attend, please take a minute to pop into the comments and share your preferences.  If you have another book you'd like to suggest, please add it to the comments so that we can check it out in advance.  Generally speaking, we've found that last minute impulse decisions are often duds... and we get better books when we all do a little bit of homework.  I've included links so that you can easily check out all these titles and have an informed opinion. 

September - Reading the Classics 
Hostess: Chandra
  1. The Invisible Man by HG Wells
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  3. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
  5. here's a great (but short) list of classics... have you read all these?
  6. other suggestions?

October - Mystery Night 
Hostess: Danielle
  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield
  2. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
  3. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce #2) by 
  4. The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman
  5. mysteries for thinking women list from Oprah
  6. any other suggestions?
November - Library Kit
Hostess: Emily

December - Get Cooking 
Hostess: Karen
  1. 97 Orchard:: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in one New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman
  2. Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. 
  3. My Paris Kitchen Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz
  4. A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson
  5. The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson
  6. other suggestions? We looking for good food with a bit of a "story" to it :-)
January 2019 - Biography/Autobiography
Hostess: Marion
  1. a biography of a member of the Royal Family?  There are lots to choose from! 
  2. Between Gods by Alison Pick... one woman's discovery that she is really Jewish and how she struggles to make sense of her heritage, faith and family in the midst of depression
  3. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (the true story of one woman's sufferings during the Cultural Revolution in China... see review in July 2010) 
  4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (about building schools to educate women in Afganistan)... this book is also interesting in that it has been widely discredited
  5. Night by Elie Wiesel (a classic memoir about one teen's struggle to come to terms with guilt and God after surviving the death camps in WWII)
  6. I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place by Howard Norman (a memoir)
  7. Queen of the Air by Dean N Jensen (a biography that may inspire a new fitness routine!?)
  8. other suggestions?

February 2019- Couples Book Club
Hostess: Shelagh

Saturday, May 12, 2018

May 2018: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley



The War That Saved My Life 
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at Tamara's house (address in email).  Come anytime after 7:30, with discussion to start at 8:00


Discussion Questions - to come...





















Menu - British Eats!

Ada spends a lot of time in the book marvelling over the variety of good food that Susan has in her home - and the fresh food.  So, our theme will be "British Eats", with some fresh additiions.  Some of the ideas use the fried sausage and eggs from their breakfasts, or are in honour of their Christmas dinner with Roast Goose...Or feel free to add your own favourite British dish!!!

Appetizers/Mains

Tray with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas or anything else fresh!
Cauliflower, Broccoli and Mustard Soup
Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped dates)
Roast Goose (or Chicken)
Beef Stew
Fried sausages or Sausage Rolls - Tessa
Bubble and Squeak
Vegetable Fritatta (to use the eggs they have at breakfast) - Karen
Mini meat pies


Desserts

Banoffee Pie
Sponge Cake with fruit sauce
Raspberry Tarts - Emily?

Drinks provided by Tamara - there will be tea, of course!!



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: May


Son of a Trickster (The Trickster trilogy) by [Robinson, Eden]
I enjoyed Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach, so I was looking forward to this book too.

Book Summary: Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada Fellowship, blends humor with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otters . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy.  Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)--and now she's dead.  Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat...and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him--even when he's not stoned.   You think you know Jared, but you don't.

My Thoughts:   I enjoyed Monkey Beach, but I LOVED Son of a Trickster!  You can tell that Eden Robinson has really upper her game and her writing is not just lush and cinematic, like it was in Monkey Beach, but her pacing and plot is much tighter and this results in a quickly paced, gripping novel of heart-break, love and loss.  Her main character, 16 yr old Jared, is the kind of cliche that everyone loves to rail against: scraping by academically,  smoking and drinking too much, dealing drugs, socially marginalized, living from hand to mouth and surrounded by an incredibly dysfunctional family.  It's so easy to blame a kid like that - and his family/community for producing him, but Robinson lets us in the backdoor to view his life from the inside and we see a teenager of incredible resilience, strength and compassion.  We see a kid who defies expectation at every turn and eventually finds courage and wisdom IN his culture, rather than despite it.  As Eden Robinson describes it: You think you know Jared, but you don't.

Equally compelling is Jared's new friend, Sarah, who is herself broken and hurting.  Sarah is a complex character who is alternately gentle and brutal; she pushed people away and then tenderly holds them close.  Jared is both drawn to her and repelled by her as well - and as he gets to know her, and he lets her into his own life, its mesmerizing to watch these two hurting kids find strength and courage in each other.

An excellently written novel that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and leave you eager for the next installment of this planned trilogy.  I'll be first in line for the next book!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Menu: "The Heart Goes Last"

Starters:
Olives (pg. 32) "Stan rolls an olive around in his mouth before chewing: it's a long time since he's had an olive. The taste is distracting.  He should be more alert, because naturally they're being scrutinized..."

Avocado with shrimp appetizer (pg. 222) "She (Charmaine) returns to the dining room.  Ed stands up, holds her chair for her.  The avocado with shrimp appetizer is in place."

Spinach salad (pg. 97)


Main:
Chicken dumplings (pg. 63) "Positron food is excellent, because if the cooking team orders up crap for you, you'll dish out the crap to them the next month to get even.  Works like a charm: it's amazing how many painstaking chefs have sprung into being.  Today it's chicken dumplings, one of his favourites."

Shepherd's pie (pg. 97) "In the evening, after four hours of towel-folding and the communal dinner - shepherd's pie, spinach salad, raspberry mousse - Charmaine joins the knitting circle in the main room of the woman's wing."

Dessert:
Raspberry mouse (pg. 97)

Plum crumble with cream (pg. 138) "She picks up her helping of plum crumble in its sturdy pressed-glass dish.  There's cream added, from Positron's own cows; not that she's ever seen those cows either."


Celebrating Canada's 150th: April

Book Summary: 
Winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction!  This is Thomas King’s first literary novel in 15 years and follows on the success of the award-winning and bestselling The Inconvenient Indian and his beloved Green Grass, Running Water and Truth and Bright Water, both of which continue to be taught in Canadian schools and universities. Green Grass, Running Water is widely considered a contemporary Canadian classic.

In The Back of the Turtle, Gabriel returns to Smoke River, the reserve where his mother grew up and to which she returned with Gabriel’s sister. The reserve is deserted after an environmental disaster killed the population, including Gabriel’s family, and the wildlife. Gabriel, a brilliant scientist working for Domidion, created GreenSweep, and indirectly led to the crisis. Now he has come to see the damage and to kill himself in the sea. But as he prepares to let the water take him, he sees a young girl in the waves. Plunging in, he saves her, and soon is saving others. Who are these people with their long black hair and almond eyes who have fallen from the sky?

Filled with brilliant characters, trademark wit, wordplay and a thorough knowledge of native myth and story-telling, this novel is a masterpiece by one of our most important writers.

My Thoughts: I was instantly hooked by this novel and by the time I finished it, I couldn't wait to begin it again.  Thomas King has a real talent for character - and an amazing capacity for compassion and humor.  Gabriel thinks himself the villain in this tale of environmental destruction and is determined to drown himself in the sea, and yet King writes him as an anguished, reluctant hero and you can't help but the feel compassion for him and urge him to fight for life.   Dorian Asher is more likely the villain in this disaster, as he's the powerful, profit hungry CEO of Domidion, but he doesn't see himself this way at all - as as King writes him as a man driven by his appetites and desires, crippled by health concerns and gob-smacked by his wife's affair and desire for a divorce - and I can't help but to feel a deep compassion for this shallow, misguided man and his rich, but empty life.  

Mara, Crispin and Sonny are truly some of the victims of this environmental crisis, but they refuse to see themselves this way, and readers won't see this either.  They're survivors, hope-rs, dreamers and eventually, doers, as the ocean, the reserve and the village begin to live, grow and thrive again.

A powerful book  that shows us meaningful reconciliation in action - full of intriguing characters, environmental caution, cultural hopefulness and genuine compassion, all told with Thomas King's deft comedic touch.  An absolute winner!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

April 2018: "The Heart Goes Last" Discussion Questions

"The Heart Goes Last" book club
Date: Thursday April 5, 2018
Time: 7:30 pm, discussion to start 8:00 pm
Location: Sherrie's home
See the source image

Discussion Questions:

1. Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?

2. If you were in Stan and Charmaine’s situation, would you sign up for the Positron Project?

3. What is the significance of Charmaine’s memories of Grandma Win and her cheerful aphorisms?

4. Do you think society could actually break down to the point that it does in the novel? Why or why not?

5. Bright colors figure into many descriptions in the novel, and act as a counterpoint to the drab quality of daily life in Positron. Stan and Charmaine’s lockers are pink and green; the Alternates’ lockers are purple and red; prison uniforms are orange; the knitted bears are blue. Do you think the colors assigned to the various objects are intentional or incidental?

6. How did your attitudes toward Stan and Charmaine change over the course of the novel?


7. The novel’s title has surprising significance. When it was revealed, did you find it a clever twist or macabre and disturbing?

8. Charmaine is placed in an impossible situation when she discovers Stan on the gurney. Did she make the right choice? What would you have done?

9. No one is who he or she seems to be in Consilience. Did the shifting identities of characters make you wonder what their previous lives had been like before they came to Consilience? Would they have been better off "outside the walls"?

10. Could the Positron Project ever be a viable solution to solving societal upheaval?


11. The author is known for embracing emerging technologies, but in this work medical science and robotics are used in sinister and manipulative ways. In this sense is The Heart Goes Last a cautionary tale?

12. "The world is all before you," says Jocelyn at the close of the novel. How do you think Charmaine will adjust to freedom?


13. Would you recommend this book to others?

Menu to follow

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: March

This month's read focuses heavily on the reality of racism, both historically, and today: Injun by Jordan Abel.

Book Summary: Award-winning Nisga'a poet Jordan Abel's third collection, Injun, is a long poem about racism and the representation of indigenous peoples. Composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950 - the heyday of pulp publishing and a period of unfettered colonialism in North America -Injun then uses erasure, pastiche, and a focused poetics to create a visually striking response to the western genre.

After compiling the online text of 91 of these now public-domain novels into one gargantuan document, Abel used his word processor's Find" function to search for the word "injun." The 509 results were used as a study in context: How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What was left over once that word was removed? Abel then cut up the sentences into clusters of three to five words and rearranged them into the long poem that is Injun. The book contains the poem as well as peripheral material that will help the reader to replicate, intuitively, some of the conceptual processes that went into composing the poem.

Though it has been phased out of use in our "post-racial" society, the word "injun" is peppered throughout pulp western novels. Injun retraces, defaces, and effaces the use of this word as a colonial and racial marker. While the subject matter of the source text is clearly problematic, the textual explorations in Injun help to destabilize the colonial image of the "Indian" in the source novels, the western genre as a whole, and the Western canon."

My Thoughts: I wouldn't really describe this book as a "fun" read, and I wouldn't recommend that you read it in a sitting.  Instead, this collection needs to be read in the context of Jordan Abel's exploration of language, and in bite-sized portions.  I got this book last October, and I've been dipping in and reading bits once a week or so since then.  Every time I visit this collection, I notice something new or I'm disturbed by something that I didn't see before.   Here's how the main poem "Injun" begins:
a)
he played injun in gods country
where boys proved themselves clean
dumb beasts who could cut fire
out of the whitest1 sand
he played english across the trail
where girls turned plum wild
garlic and strained words
through the window of night
he spoke through numb lips and
breathed frontier2

In the second half of the collection, subtitled "Notes" Jordan Abel explores some of the other words that show up frequently in western novels.  He cuts out the line containing that word and lines up the sentences on the page so that the key word stands out.  When you read through the sentences, you get a strong sense of how that word is used, and what kind of meaning it holds.  In the case of the following example, you could easily replace the word "whitest" with "best" in the same way the word "injun" is often coupled with "dirty"

The neatest thing about reading this collection is imagining the writing of it - realizing that Abel is not writing in his own words, but that he's cutting apart novels and piecing them together in bits of his own... he literally deconstructs literature and recreates his own art from the ruins.  And what emerges is no longer the stereotyped "dead Injun" of western novels, but an alive, vibrant and rebellious nation of people who won't be defeated.

Although not really aimed at the average reader, I would recommend this challenging, "cutting" edge collection for those who don't mind some poetry that comes in impressions and big pictures, as opposed to poetry that can be analysed word by word.    I didn't understand this whole work, but that's ok - every time I go back to it, I'm challenged anew.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Suggestions for Feb 2019

Hi Ladies,

Any ideas for next February's Couples meeting book?  Pop in here and add your thoughts so that we've got some ideas to choose from for next year.

Here's an interesting list of Popular Couples Book Club books!


The AnimalsThe Animals by Christian Kiefer Bill Reed manages a wildlife sanctuary in rural Idaho, caring for injured animals raptors, a wolf, and his beloved bear, Majer, among them that are unable to survive in the wild. Seemingly rid of his troubled past, Bill hopes to marry the local veterinarian and live a quiet life together, the promise of which is threatened when a childhood friend is released from prison. Suddenly forced to confront the secrets of his criminal youth, Bill battles fiercely to preserve the shelter that protects these wounded animals and to keep hidden his turbulent, even dangerous, history. Alternating between past and present, Christian Kiefer contrasts the wreckage of Bill's crime-ridden years in Reno, Nevada, with the elusive promise of a peaceful future. In finely sculpted prose imaginatively at odds with the harsh, volatile world Kiefer evokes, The Animals builds powerfully toward the revelation of Bill s defining betrayal and the drastic lengths Bill goes to in order to escape the consequences.

Life ItselfLife Itself - a memoir by Roger Ebert Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.

In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. And now, for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career.
Roger Ebert's journalism carried him on a path far from his nearly idyllic childhood in Urbana, Illinois. It is a journey that began as a reporter for his local daily, and took him to Chicago, where he was unexpectedly given the job of film critic for the Sun-Times, launching a lifetime's adventures.  In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He remembers his friendships with Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Oprah Winfrey, and Russ Meyer (for whom he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie). He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese.

This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir-it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself.  "I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."  -from LIFE ITSELF
 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Feb 2018: Couples Meeting


Couple's Meeting
February 23, 2018 7:30 p.m.
Schuurman Residence

Red Notice - Bill Browder
1. Did you enjoy the book, why or why not?
2. Does it seem that Mr. Browder’s character or perspective changes in any way throughout the course of the events described in the book?
3. Do you believe that the book fairly and accurately represents the facts?
4. Do you believe that there may be other, and possibly conflicting, opinions?
5. How were Mr. Browder’s purchases of vouchers different from the oligarchs’?
6. Do you think Mr. Browder was naive or intentionally ignored (at least initially) problems with Putin’s government?
7. What do you think was the intent behind the activist approach and the media campaigns?
8. Who do you think is the hero of this book?
9. Why do you think Mr. Browder wrote (or had a ghost writer write) this book?
10. Do you think there will be any repercussions from the publication of the book?
11. Would you invest in a fund run by Bill Browder?
12.  Would you recommend this book to others, why or why not?

Menu

Google a Russian recipe, or chose from the list below:

Borscht
Black (rye bread)
Beef stroganoff
Pirozhki- Marion
Blini
Pickled/smoked fish
Dumplings
Pork with prune stew
Syrniki
Strudel
Pastila - Emily


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Celebrating Canada's 150th: February

This month I've got another nonfiction title: Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Book Summary: In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied.


More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water.
Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities. - from amazon.ca
My thoughts: This books was a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking reality check showing how racism is still very much alive and thriving in Canada today.   Tanya Talaga is a journalist with roots in Northern Ontario and working in Toronto.  She travels to Thunder Bay with a story in mind - wondering how to mobilize local First Nations so that they participate in federal elections - and discovers that her interview attempts fall flat on an audience who simply want to talk about the local high school students who've drowned in the river.  Local First Nations leaders are trying to raise alarm bells, and no one's listening.  Initially, Talaga is skeptical too.  But she promises to listen, do her research and if there's a story here, she promises to tell it. 

What she shares are the lives of 7 young people who died in mysterious, unexplained and poorly investigated ways.  She shares the stories of their families, who have to live with heartbreak and unanswered questions.  She shared the pain of northern communities who have been hurt, ignored, side-lined and forgotten - not just once or twice, but for generations.  

I would consider this book a must-read for all Canadians.  Genuine reconciliation requires knowledge and compassion, and then action. Several times, this book points out in very clear ways the role of an uncaring public: if we're not interested and don't care, then racists can get away with racist attitudes, remarks and actions; then police services can get away with hasty, inconclusive answers; then politicians can get away with big talk and small action. 

All of these young people were living far away from their communities, family and friends - essentially, they were orphans.  And rather than caring for the vulnerable: the young, the orphans and the poor, the city of Thunder Bay, Ontarians and Canadians turned a blind eye to their suffering and the deaths and preferred easy answers over hard truths.  Now, Tanya Talaga is calling on us all to really see these young people and their families.  To look and not turn away.  And the truth is a painful one that requires action.