BC Indigenous Leaders Win National Literary Award for “Unsettling Canada”

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Co-Authors: Arthur Manuel (left) and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson (right)

News Release: Two prominent BC Indigenous leaders, Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson and Arthur Manuel, have won the Canadian History Association Aboriginal Book Award for their co-authored work Unsettling Canada; A National Wake-up Call.

The award was announced at the Canadian History Association organization’s annual gala in Calgary on May 31. The jury said it was “impressed by how the work traced the struggles for Indigenous rights and land claims in Canada during a time-period that frankly scholars (especially historians) have neglected, and from such a personal and significantly Indigenous-insider perspective. It was fascinating to read.“

Unsettling Canada, which tells the story of the past 50 years of struggle for Indigenous rights, also lays out a course for the future relations between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians. The book had already been named one of the top 100 political books by The Hills Times and one of the top six non-fiction books by Canadian Dimension Magazine and it has been widely praised.

Naomi Klein described Unsettling Canada  as “wise, enlightening and tremendously readable” providing “the back story of both grassroots and backroom struggles that created the context in which we find ourselves today, one in which a new generation of First Nations leaders is demanding sovereignty and self-determination, and more and more non-Indigenous Canadians finally understand that huge swaths of this country we call Canada is not ours—or our government’s—to sell.”

The award-winning Indigenous writer, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson described Unsettling Canada as “a breathtakingly beautiful story of Indigenous resistance, strength, and movement building, a critical conversation that Canada and Indigenous peoples must have because it is centred on land, and, therefore, it is one of the most important books on Indigenous politics I’ve ever read.”

Arthur Manuel said he is “very encouraged by the degree that non-Indigenous peoples are recognizing that we need to have a fundamental change in this country and this award is another indication of that.“

Grand Chief Derrickson said that although they had not written the book for an academic audience, he was very pleased to see that it worked on that level. “This book has been reaching Indigenous peoples and Canadians from many backgrounds because it looks at not only where we are today but it offers a look ahead at where we can be in the future.“

Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Derrickson are now working on a follow up book that sets out in more precise terms how Canada and Indigenous peoples can honourable resolve the conflicts described in Unsettling Canada, and also points out the dangers to both sides if they fail to find just solutions to the Aboriginal title and rights issues.

Dragon boat team narrowly escapes harm as car crashes into water in Port Moody

 

On Monday, May 16th, like any other training day for the Nothin Dragon, dragon boat team, before heading out on the water we were doing our warmups and stretches on the grassy picnic area to the left (west) of the boat ramp at Rocky Point Park.

Our coach, Erica was just coming in from leading the high school team she coaches and was walking down the wharf.  We heard a car engine rev, and then accelerate, causing us to look up and within the blink of an eye, a red Toyota came pummeling through the boat parking area  heading directly at our team warming up on the grass.  The Nothin Dragon Masters is made up of men and women, 50 years plus, with some of the team in their early 80s.  Several members were in the direct line of acceleration. Screams were heard and split-second decisions were made, as to which way to run to avoid being hit.

The car jumped the cement curb with increased speed heading straight through us  toward the water.  The car then made contact with a cement-secured park bench  (still holding the paddles of team members). The bench and the car then went airborne over the rock embankment and landed in the water on rocks since the tide was on its way out, finally standing still, in water only up to the front wheel-well.

This is from the vantage point of where the car drove toward the water. People in this scene were looking down at the Toyota, but this is the direct path she took when she drove through our training warmup. Photo: Robbin Whachell
This is from the vantage point of where the car drove toward the water. People in this scene were looking down at the Toyota (you can see the break in the mesh orange fence), but this is the direct path she took when she drove through our training warmup. Photo: Robbin Whachell

Coach Erica was walking her students through the gazebo, just east of the scene and saw it all take place. She ran to the car along with my teammate Charlie and she opened the passenger door. We heard the engine rev, shocked that the car was still running, and the driver still wanted the car to move.

Erica managed to get the  motor turned off. The driver was conscious, but delirious it seemed.  Several calls were made to 911 by onlookers,  and an open line to BC Ambulance was maintained until they arrived  on the scene.

Erica and Charlie stayed with the driver until the paramedics arrived. She told us later that the female driver said she was tired, and wanted to get home. She had tried several times to reengage the car to leave.

After the authorities arrived and were in control, and with all of us still very much in shock, our team gathered in a circle near the gazebo to take a moment to internalize what had just happened and to give thanks that no one was injured (save the driver).

Port Moody police officers approached us and took statements from team members. Some of our team who had arrived late, had seen the woman driving down the grass bank beside the Old Mill Boathouse just moments before the incident. The fact that no people were hurt or other vehicles damaged before she made that final leap, was a miracle.

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View from the gazebo at Rocky Point Park looking to the red Toyota that was driven through our training session, through a park bench and over the rocks. It was driven by an Asian woman approximately in her 50s (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

Our coach suggested it might be good for us to continue with our practice (for those that wanted) to shake off the experience.

On our way to the dragon boat we watched as the first-responders helped the woman from her car, and covered her with a blanket. I was surprised she was able to walk over the rocks to a stretcher. She seemed completely dazed however.

We took our seats in the Dragonfly and Firefly, utterly grateful that no one was hurt, and headed out onto the water, a little numb, until the strokes put our bodies and minds in unison.

Upon returning to shore , we were surprised to see emergency vehicles were still there. The red Toyota was hoisted out of the water by a tow truck, and we returned to the comfort of our homes and families…

(Note: Much of this account was written by, or adapted from the words of our club’s president, Brian. No point rewriting what he articulated quite accurately.)

For more photos see the team’s Facebook page HERE.