Cover of: Gender, power, and  representations of Cree law
Cover of
Gender, power, and
representations of
Cree law
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Gender, power, and representations of Cree law /  Emily Snyder.
Vancouver :  UBC Press, 2018. ix, 236 pages.

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Drawing on the insights of Indigenous feminist legal theory, Emily Snyder examines representations of Cree law and gender in books, videos, graphic novels, educational websites, online lectures, and a video game. Although these resources promote the revitalization of Cree law and the principle of miyo-wicehtowin (good relations), Snyder argues that they do not capture the complexities of gendered power relations. The majority of these resources either erase women’s legal authority by not mentioning them, or they diminish their agency by portraying Cree laws and gender roles in inflexible, aesthetically pleasing ways that overlook power imbalances and other forms of oppression.

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Cover of: Lived fictions : unity and  exclusion in Canadian politics
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Lived fictions
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Lived fictions : unity and exclusion in Canadian politics / John Grant.
Vancouver : UBC Press, 2018. ix, 292 pages.

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The idea of political unity contains its own opposite, because a political community can never guarantee the equal status of all its members. The price of belonging is an entrenched social stratification within the political unit itself. This book explores how the desire for political unity generates a collective commitment to certain lived fictions – the citizen-state, the market economy, and so forth – that shape our understanding of political legitimacy and responsibility. Canada promises unity through democratic politics, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, a welfare state, and a multicultural approach to cultural relations. This book documents the historical failure of these promises, elaborating the radical institutional and intellectual changes needed to overcome our lived fictions.

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Cover of All our relations : finding  the path forward
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All our relations
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All our relations : finding the path forward / Tanya Talaga.
Toronto : Anansi, 2018. 258 pages.

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Every single year in Canada, one-third of all deaths among Indigenous youth are due to suicide. Studies indicate youth between the ages of ten and nineteen, living on reserve, are five to six times more likely to commit suicide than their peers in the rest of the population. Suicide is a new behaviour for First Nations people. There is no record of any suicide epidemics prior to the establishment of the 130 residential schools across Canada.

Bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga argues that the aftershocks of cultural genocide have resulted in a disturbing rise in youth suicides in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. She examinees the tragic reality of children feeling so hopeless they want to die, of kids perishing in clusters, forming suicide pacts, or becoming romanced by the notion of dying — a phenomenon that experts call “suicidal ideation.” She also looks at the rising global crisis, as evidenced by the high suicide rates among the Inuit of Greenland and Aboriginal youth in Australia. Finally, she documents suicide prevention strategies in Nunavut, Seabird Island, and Greenland; Facebook’s development of AI software to actively link kids in crisis with mental health providers; and the push by First Nations leadership in Northern Ontario for a new national health strategy that could ultimately lead communities towards healing from the pain of suicide.

Based on her Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series, Tanya Talaga’s 2018 Massey Lectures is a powerful call for action and justice for Indigenous communities and youth.

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At the centre of government
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At the centre of government : the Prime Minister and the limits on political power / Ian Brodie.
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018. xvii, 205 pages.

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"Canada's prime minister is a dictator." "The Sun King of Canadian government." "More powerful than any other chief executive of any other democratic country." These kinds of claims are frequently made about Canada's leader – especially when the prime minister's party holds a majority government in Parliament. But is there any truth to these arguments? At the Centre of Government not only presents a comprehensively researched work on the structure of political power in Canada but also offers a first-hand view of the inner workings of the Canadian federal government. Ian Brodie – former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former executive director of the Conservative Party of Canada – argues that the various workings of the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office, the cabinet, parliamentary committees, and the role of backbench members of Parliament undermine propositions that the prime minister has evolved into the role of an autocrat, with unchecked control over the levers of political power. He corrects the dominant thinking that Canadian prime ministers hold power without limits over their party, caucus, cabinet, Parliament, the public service, and the policy agenda. Citing examples from his time in government and from Canadian political history he argues that in Canada's evolving political system, with its roots in the pre-Confederation era, there are effective checks on executive power, and that the golden age of Parliament and the backbencher is likely now. Drawing on a vast body of work on governance and the role of the executive branch of government, At the Centre of Government is a fact-based primer on the workings of Canadian government and sobering second thoughts about many proposals for reform.

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Good and mad
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Good and mad : the revolutionary power of women's anger / Rebecca Traister.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018. xxxi, 284 pages.

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Review from Booklist Reviews:

Traister (All the Single Ladies?, 2016) takes a deep dive into the current political climate to explore the contemporary and historical relationship women have with anger and the ramifications of expressing and suppressing feminine rage. Traister uses the 2016 election as a jumping off point, when to the shock of many, an eminently qualified female candidate was defeated by an inexperienced white male businessman who spouted off sexist and racist comments without compunction. While Donald Trump's and Bernie Sanders' angry rhetoric was lauded, Hilary Clinton was lambasted for being shrill and screechy (ditto, other female firebrands like Kamala Harris and Maxine Waters). Traister uses this startlingly obvious double standard to explore how attaching negative connotations to women's anger has always been used to silence and dismiss them. Although at times that anger boils over and energizes a movement, such as when suffragettes fought for the right to vote in the nineteenth century and when in 2017 the revelation of the depth and scope of Harvey Weinstein's crimes against women ignited the #MeToo movement. Traister doesn't shy away from the complicated issues surrounding feminine rage, exploring, for example, the ways white women have discounted and discredited the experiences of women of color. Timely and absorbing, Traister's fiery tome is bound to attract attention and discussion.

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The secret life of cows
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The secret life
of cows
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The secret life of cows / Rosamund Young.
New York : Penguin Press, 2018. xvi, 139 pages.

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Review from Booklist Reviews:

An organic farmer for more than 30 years, Young runs Kite's Nest Farm on the edge of the Cotswolds in southwestern England. Raising beef and dairy cattle along with sheep, pigs, and chickens in an open environment where the animals choose what's best for them, Young discovered that allowing her animals to express their natural behaviors made sound financial sense. Happy animals grow faster. In a series of interconnected stories, the author writes of bovine friendships, such as that of the White Boys, two pure-white calves born days apart who immediately preferred each other's company to that of their mothers. Animals know how to care for themselves. Those who have sustained an injury will seek out willows, a natural source of aspirin. Lucy the pig taught Young the falsity of the old wives' tale that pigs couldn't swim by jumping into a pond and doing a few laps. Young's animal stories are truly charming and quietly convincing of the great value of a more natural form of farming.

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On the frontier : letters from the Canadian West in the 1880s / William Wallace ; edited by Ken S. Coates and Bill Morrison.
Regina : University of Regina Press, 2015. xxxii, 311 pages.

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First published more than twenty years ago as My Dear Maggie, this new edition of William Wallace's letters home to England provides rare documentation of the earliest days of settlement in the West. The correspondence conveys a sense of unspoken courage--the courage that was needed to make a fresh start in a strange new land.

"William's letters contains many elements common to settlers' writings: a recounting of the exhausting trip behind slow-moving oxen from the jumping-off point to the homestead, the violence of thunderstorms, the pain of frozen extremities, and the destruction caused by prairie fires. They are also full of the fine details of life not usually found in such abundance in pioneer narratives, details made vivid by William's observant eye and lyrical writing style... He tells of mosquitoes (he even encloses one in a letter)... the fierce weather, nearby bears and howling wolves. William Wallace takes us on his personal journey from immigrant to citizen, a journey awakened by his growing attachment to his new landscape."

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Price paid : the fight for First Nations survival
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Price paid
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Price paid : the fight for First Nations survival / Bev Sellars ; foreword and excerpts by Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla (Hereditary Chief Bill Wilson).
Vancouver : Talonbooks, 2016. xxvii, 209 pages.

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Price Paid untangles truth from some of the myths about First Nations and addresses misconceptions still widely believed today.

The second book by award-winning author Bev Sellars, Price Paid is based on a popular presentation Sellars often told to treaty-makers, politicians, policymakers, and educators.

The book begins with glimpses of foods, medicines, and cultural practices North America’s indigenous peoples have contributed to the rest of the world. It documents the dark period of regulation by racist laws during the twentieth century, and then discusses new emergence in the twenty-first century into a re-establishment of Indigenous land and resource rights. The result is a candidly told personal take on the history of Aboriginal rights in Canada and Canadian history told from a First Nations point of view.

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Off the street : legalizing  drugs
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Off the street
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Off the street : legalizing drugs / W.A. Bogart ; foreword by Sukanya Pillay.
Toronto : A.J. Patrick Boyer Book, 2016. 278 pages.

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An unflinching analysis of one of the major issues of our time - the shift from criminalization to regulation of recreational drugs.

The “war on drugs” has failed. The cost of trying to control the production, sale, and use of recreational drugs through the criminal law is too high: unjust incarceration, illicit markets, tainted substances, exploited children, and an untaxed industry.

But there is an alternative.

The watchwords for governments controlling the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, junk food, and gambling are “permit but discourage.” All are legal, but harmful consumption is decreased by targeted regulatory strategies.

That same approach should be adopted for drugs. Legalization and regulation can attack the underground economy, drive down excessive use, provide revenue for prevention, treatment, and counselling, and better protect children.

Off the Street: Legalizing Drugs calls for a thoughtful, national discussion of the legalization and regulation of recreational drugs - the “least bad” way forward.

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Political tribes : group  instinct and the fate of nations
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Political tribes
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Political tribes : group instinct and the fate of nations / Amy Chua.
New York, New York : Penguin Press, 2018. 293 pages.

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Review from Kirkus Reviews:

In a biting critique of American foreign policy and analysis of the nation's divisive culture wars, Chua argues that tribal affiliation exerts a crucial, powerful force on individuals' behaviors and identities. Humans' need for "bonds and attachments," she asserts, fulfills an instinct to belong but also to exclude. People "will sacrifice, and even kill and die, for their groups." Reprising some ideas from her book World on Fire (2002) on the negative consequences of exporting free market democracy, Chua examines America's failed involvement in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuela as well as responses to terrorist groups. The author blames blindness to tribalism for the disastrous outcomes. That blindness comes, in part, from America's unique success in assimilating diverse populations into its "ethnicity-transcending national identity." Assessing other countries, Americans have failed to recognize tribal affiliations and rivalries or the existence of a repressive "market-dominant minority" that controls major sectors of the economy. Instead, the U.S. has fixated on its mission to foil communism and export democracy. Focused on the Cold War, "U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan never saw the potent anti-American, anti-Western group identity fueling the Islamic fundamentalist fighters." In Iraq, foreign policy was shaped by a belief in "markets and democracy as a universal prescription for the many ills of underdevelopment." In reality, the downfall of Saddam Hussein incited rivalries among tribal groups and the rise of ethnic conflict and fundamentalism. In Trump's America, cohesion has splintered "into ever more specific subgroups created by overlapping racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation categories" that feel threatened by one another. Inclusivity, hailed by the left, has devolved into exclusivity as groups seek to exert "exclusive rights to their own histories, symbols, and traditions." Nevertheless, Chua is heartened by individuals' efforts to bridge divides and to undermine "purveyors of political tribalism" on the left and right. A persuasive call to rethink foreign policy and heal domestic fissures.


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