Library Moments: June Online Book Club – First Nations Novelists

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

June 21st is National Aboriginal Day and also the summer solstice.  The date for National Aboriginal Day was picked on purpose because of the summer solstice’s cultural significance to many First Nations People. The day is to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. Because of this we have chosen to highlight works of fiction written by First Nations authors for June’s online book club theme.

Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about a novel written by a member of a First Nation.

ragged companySherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: In Ragged Company four chronically homeless people – Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger – seek refuge in a warm movie theatre when a severe Arctic Front descends on the city. During what is supposed to be a one-time event, the temporary shelter fascinates them. They fall in love with this new world, and once the weather clears they continue their trips to the cinema. On one of these outings they meet Granite, a jaded and lonely journalist who has turned his back on writing, preferring the escapist qualities of film, and an unlikely friendship is struck. A found cigarette package which contains some unsmoked cigarettes, three twenty dollar bills, and a lottery ticket changes the fortune of this struggling set. The ragged company discovers they have won thirteen and a half million dollars, but none of them can claim the money because they lack proper identification. Enlisting the help of Granite, their lives, and fortunes, become forever changed. Wagamese has never made a secret of the fact that he fell victim to the curse of alcoholism. In the acknowledgments for Ragged Company he gives thanks to the people in the hostels, shelters, drop-in centres and missions he stayed in through his years on the street and those, he said, “who showed me the way up when all I could see was down.” This book isn’t his story, but it is a way of being that he knows very well.

exceptional circumstancesErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In Exceptional Circumstances by James Bartleman, Luc Cadotte is an undercover spy serving abroad in Cuba and Columbia during the turmoil of the Cold War. Then, in 1970 he is assigned to the team managing the October crisis, when the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. In Exceptional Circumstances we follow Cadotte through his upbringing as a Métis in Penetanguishene, to working with guerrillas in the jungles of Columbia, to the contentious use of martial law and a test of morals that could undo his career during one of Canada’s most notable domestic crises.

James Bartleman, who served as the 27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, draws upon personal experience to form the character of Cadotte. Bartleman is a member of the Chippewas of the Rama First Nation and has had an extensive and distinguished career in foreign service including as a diplomat in Columbia and Cuba. He was also a member of the task force that managed the FLQ crisis. He was compelled to write Exceptional Circumstances, a metaphorical examination of shrinking civil liberties in a post-9/11 world, when in 2011 then-Public Safety Minister Vic Toews authorized CSIS and the RCMP to use intelligence derived from torture. Exceptional Circumstances is the third of a trilogy of social justice novels including As Long as the River’s Flow and The Redemption of Oscar Wolf both of which are also available at the Haliburton County Public Library.

monkey beachBessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson begins with Jimmy Hill’s fishing boat being lost at sea, and while his older sister, Lisa, waits for word, her thoughts drift to their childhood in Kitamaat, a small First Nation community off the coast of British Columbia. The story skips back and forth between the 20-year-old Lisa’s anxious vigil and the story of her upbringing. Eventually, she sets out alone to meet her parents near the spot where Jimmy’s boat was last seen. Lisa is an unsentimental, ferocious, funny and utterly believable protagonist; Robinson’s narrative is engrossing but fiercely uncompromising, avoiding easy resolution.

Anyone can participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of four books selected each month. You don’t even have to read from a particular month’s selection you can simply go online and make comments about books and reading in general. Next Month’s theme is “Ice Cream.”

To join the online book club, look for the Social Media links on our homepage at www.haliburtonlibrary.ca. Click on the “g” for Goodreads and it’ll take you right to the Online Book Club page. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments, thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM June 19th – 25th, 2016.

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