This December, we’re taking a trip to the West Coast, via books, and reading books by marginalized authors from British Columbia. From poetry through to graphic novels and memoirs mixed with storytelling, these books offer stories and lessons we can all appreciate and love.
If you’ve recently read and loved work by a BC author, be sure to suggest them in the comments and on our social channels, using the hashtag #FoldChallenge21!
When it was first published in 2010, The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book was heralded as a groundbreaking illustrated history of Indigenous activism and resistance in the Americas over the previous 500 years, from contact to present day. Eleven years later, author and artist Gord Hill has revised and expanded the book, which is now available in colour for the first time.
The 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance Comic Book powerfully portrays flashpoints in history when Indigenous peoples have risen up and fought back against colonizers and other oppressors. Events depicted include the the Spanish conquest of the Aztec, Mayan and Inca empires; the 1680 Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico; the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890; the resistance of the Great Plains peoples in the 19th century; and more recently, the Idle No More protests supporting Indigenous sovereignty and rights in 2012 and 2013, and the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016. Canadian events depicted include the Oka crisis in 1990, the Grand River land dispute between Six Nations and the Government of Canada in 2006, and the Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline protests in 2020.
With strong, plain language and evocative illustrations, this revised and expanded edition of The 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance Comic Book reveals the tenacity and perseverance of Indigenous peoples as they endured 500-plus years of genocide, massacre, torture, rape, displacement, and assimilation: a necessary antidote to conventional histories of the Americas.
Spoken-word poet Valerie Mason-John unsettles readers with potent images of ongoing trauma from slavery and colonization. Her narratives range from the beginnings of the African Diaspora to the story of a stowaway on the Windrush, from racism and sexism in Trump’s America to the wide impact of the Me Too movement. Stories of entrapment, sexual assault, addictive behaviours, and rave culture are told and contrasted to the strengthening and forthright voice of Yaata, Supreme Being. I Am Still Your Negro is truth that needs to be told, re-told, and remembered.
The music of thinking. The thinking of music. Music at the Heart of Thinking is a poetry that works through language as the true practice of thought and improvisation as the tool that listens to and notates thinking. From jazz, the unpredictable ad lib driving itself from itself. From a drunken Shaolin monk, the poem as imbalanced tai chi. From Keats’s negative capability, the half-closed eye, the estrangement of language. All intended to bump beyond the end of the word into focus. As a response to readings in contemporary texts, art, and ideas. Music at the Heart of Thinking relocates critical language and thinking to the poetic bavardage at the heart of such endeavours. The poetics that generates these texts arises out of a lifelong poem project that has its roots in the long poem genre of the ’80s and its interest in the resistance to closure and the containment of meaning characteristic of the lyric. This book continues the work of two previous out-of-print publications, Music at the Heart of Thinking (1987) and Alley, Alley Home Free (1990). The poems are generated as textual responses in the reading, looking, and listening of the poet’s attention to his cultural milieu. Thus the writing addresses contemporary texts and art over the past forty years. Within this poetry of estrangement lie possible coherences for some sense of writing as a notation for thinking as feeling. The difficulty of this writing is literal and intentional, wary of any attempt to make thinking simple, easy, or predictable.
Mamaskatch, Darrel J. McLeod’s 2018 memoir of growing up Cree in Northern Alberta, was a publishing sensation—winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, shortlisted for many other major prizes and translated into French and German editions. In Peyakow, McLeod continues the poignant story of his impoverished youth, beset by constant fears of being dragged down by the self-destruction and deaths of those closest to him as he battles the bullying of white classmates, copes with the trauma of physical and sexual abuse, and endures painful separation from his family and culture. With steely determination, he triumphs: now elementary teacher; now school principal; now head of an Indigenous delegation to the UN in Geneva; now executive in the Government of Canada—and now a celebrated author.
Brutally frank but buoyed throughout by McLeod’s unquenchable spirit, Peyakow—a title borrowed from the Cree word for “one who walks alone”—is an inspiring account of triumph against unimaginable odds. McLeod’s perspective as someone whose career path has crossed both sides of the Indigenous/white chasm resonates with particular force in today’s Canada.