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.