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Small Predators includes a series of brightly coloured blank pages--pale sky blue in one instance, blood red in another--inserted at random throughout the text There's no explanation for the design placement or colour choice, but it adds visual interest and provides some reprieve during this short, intense read.


ALICIA ELLIOTT Penguin Random House


A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a sharp and insightful commentary about the pervasive colonial patterns on Turtle Island Through personal storytelling, Alicia Elliott, a Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River, invites readers to journey across borders and time, challenging them to see the lived experience of intergenerational trauma through her eyes. Whether it is Elliott's piercing analysis of literary colonialism in Canada, mental illness, food insecurity, "passing," sexual assault or her ferocity as an Indigenous mother, her essays are vivid and powerful.

Elliott's gifts are unmistakable as she weaves her personal stories with larger patterns of colonial trauma. When retelling her reaction to Gerald Stanley's acquittal in the murder of Saskatchewan native Colten Boushie, she recalls the painful relief she felt knowing that her light-skinned child would be less likely to face the same violence, noting, "No one should have to feel thankful that their child isn't dark-skinned." This is no passing comment; indeed, Elliott calls out the lie of "discovery" and how it allows people to claim Indigenous land while designating Indigenous peoples as the villains in settler narratives As Elliott notes, "Racism, for many people, seems to occupy space in very much the same way as dark matter: it forms the skeleton of our world, yet remains ultimately invisible, undetectable "

When telling the story of her decade-long battle with lice, readers cannot escape the fact that in Canada, people raise families in crowded homes with no running water. In the final chapter, Elliott interrupts any passive reading of her intimate story, challenging readers to literally fill in the blanks on such complex topics as abuse, justice and colonialism.

Elliott raises compelling questions about the insidious nature of colonialism in Canada This book is on the required reading list for my Introduction to Indigenous Studies course, and it should be on yours, too.


Bertha Wilson and Claire L'Heureux-Dube at the Supreme Court of Canada


Second Story Press


This highly readable little book reminds us of the importance of gender diversity on the country's highest court. In 1982 and 1987 respectively, Ontario's Bertha Wilson and Quebec's Claire L'Heureux-Dube made history in their appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada. Like early pioneers such as Clara Brett Martin, called to the Ontario Bar in 1897, they challenged male space. "Opposites in character and behaviour," both proved courageous arbiters of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland in 1923, married to a Protestant minister and admitted to the bar in 1958, Wilson had been the "research heartbeat" of an elite Toronto firm. The extrovert L'Heureux-Dube sprang from a similarly modest background but her 1927 birth in Rimouski, Quebec was followed by a much less conventional marriage and children. After joining the provincial bar in 1952, she captured attention as a leading litigator in family law. Stereotyped early on as law's "good" and "bad" girls respectively, neither identified as feminists. They merely demonstrated extraordinary talent and industry. In the 1970s, the "proper Scottish den mother" and the "flamboyant francophone femme fatale" were well-positioned when feminist demands for greater judicial equality could no longer be ignored.

When it came to the Supreme Court, Wilson found indispensable allies in feminist cabinet ministers Judy Erola and Monique Begin, who served in Pierre Trudeau's government. L'Heureux-Dube lacked such support in Brian Mulroney's cabinet, but he wanted to make history with a Quebec appointment.

Their immediate immersion in critical interpretations that questioned the relationship of parliamentary and judicial decision-making made both women lighting rods for fears of undue female and feminist influence. Wilson's decisions regarding the plight of battered women and prostitutes in the Lavallee and the Prostitution Reference cases in 1990, and L'Heureux-Dube's recognition of women's vulnerability in divorce in Moge vs. Moge in 1992 and the legitimacy of same sex families in Canada vs. Mossop in 1993 made Canadian patriarchy tremble.

As Backhouse concludes, however, neither Madame Justice fully understood racism's corrosive influence. For all their achievements, law's promised land of equal justice remained a good way off.


Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men


Chatto & Windus


No one can deny that we live in a sexist world built on double standards and riddled with gendered violence; we experience it in even the most innocuous interactions.

As you will discover in Caroline Criado Perez's Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, there is almost no facet of life in the modern world that hasn't been shaped by gender Or, to be more accurate, shaped by men, for men. This may come as little surprise to the half of the population disadvantaged by male dominance. What is surprising, perhaps, is how pervasive it is for "male" to be the default setting.

The use of male pronouns to refer to all people is one simple example This false sense of neutrality bleeds into everything from healthcare and education to city planning and safety regulations. Perez doesn't rely on anecdotes or assumptions; she digs deep into the data that shows how the masculine default holds women and non-male-identifying individuals back--and even puts their lives at risk.

A gender binary functions very much at the heart of Invisible Women, so those who identify outside of those strict parameters may feel a little excluded However, there is no denying that, despite the reality of the gender spectrum, the world still operates on the whim of traditionally (cis-het) masculine needs and wants, in opposition to every-thing--and everyone--that falls outside of those narrow parameters As Perez demonstrates, until we acknowledge the systemic problem of data and visibility for those outside the narrow confines of the "default male," any progress will be only superficial at best.


How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution


University of Regina Press


The Trans Generation encapsulates this moment in time as experienced by trans children and their parents. It points to the necessity for structural change in the institutions and places meant to act in the best interest of children and breaks down how this change can be life-changing--and preserving--to those affected.

A decade after the publication of The Transgender Child (co-authored by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper), Travers's The Trans Generation accounts for the years between and moving forward While The Transgender Child was more of a guidebook for parents, caregivers and professionals, The Trans Generation works as a sociology text--scholarly and a must-teach, but also very readable to non-academics.

The Trans Generation is broken down into sections on transgender kids, schools, spaces, parents and supportive healthcare In each, Travers speaks directly to the experience of trans kids and their parents through interviews Travers talks about the harm done when trans youth are essentially forced into "living a double life," as well as the self-harm that often results from barriers, discrimination and the absence of inclusion With 95 percent of trans kids feeling unsafe at school, these factors are crucial in shaping kids' lives and identities.

The school section explores what trans kids need to survive this system and discusses structural changes needed at the school board level In the section on spaces, Travers looks primarily at public bathrooms--a topic often at the centre of conversations around trans issues--and sport Travers's background in sports and social justice writing, with a focus on queer and gender inclusion, shines through here

The section on parents discusses emotional labour, parenting styles, resilience and support It also positions parents of trans kids as part of a social movement.

Travers's scholarly work is balanced by their own personal anecdotes of growing up genderqueer, as well as their experiences as a parent This sharing personalizes the book and makes Travers's passion for this moment and movement all the more striking and relevant.

ASSEMBLING UNITY: Indigenous Politics, Gender, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs



In Assembling Unity: Indigenous Politics, Gender, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Sarah A. Nickel argues that the formation of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) was part of a long trajectory of Indigenous political activism and thought, rather than a reactionary movement that responded only to settler colonial policies. Through the use of archival and oral history research, Nickel demonstrates that Indigenous political unity in British Columbia was continuously negotiated among various competing voices--elected leaders, women, and grassroots represent-atives--within a larger Indigenous sovereignty movement.

Nickel divides her analysis, which ranges from 1969-83, into two parts. The first explores the foundation of the UBCIC and its activities and challenges in its first six years The second section documents the movement's radicalization as it rejected government funding, engaged in direct action and renewed calls for Indigenous sovereignty in the context of the constitutional patriation debates.

Attentive to the gendered nature of Indigenous leadership in this period, the author's analysis of unity gives insight into the ways in which Indigenous women's organizations like the Indian Homemakers' Association of British Columbia, the British Columbia Native Women's Society and other informal networks used the concept of unity and the language of motherhood to challenge gender inequality in the Indian Act, in their communities and in the UBCIC itself.Nickel situates Indigenous women's voices in the context of the Lavell case and other national and global gender equality movements, and argues that while their concerns pre-dated these developments, Indigenous women in B C were actively involved in political discussions surrounding community wellness and sovereignty.

From the outset, Nickel tells us that hers is not a straightforward history of the UBCIC, and indeed, her chapters are organized around such ideas as authority, funding and protest, among others The result is a rich examination of the work Indigenous political leaders and grassroots organizers did to negotiate unity as part of a longer history of poliical activism in the context of continued settler colonialism.



Art Gallery of Ontario and Goose Lane Editions


The companion book to the Mickalene Thomas exhibition recently mounted at the Art Gallery of Ontario explores the challenges and triumphs of women throughout the African diaspora.

In the foreword to the volume that showcases an arresting cover portrait of actress Diahann Carroll, AGO officials note the "politics of resistance" that infuse the work of the New York-based artist, adding, "As a queer Black female artist, Thomas has gravitated toward collage, a medium that gives her free rein to play with multiple, intersecting points of view related to race, gender, and sexuality "

Resplendent with more than two dozen images of Thomas's work, the book includes essays that probe the themes that course through her oeuvre. In the title essay, Julie Crooks, Assistant Curator of Photography at AGO, discusses I Learned the Hard Way (2010), a Thomas painting featuring the artist's signature rhinestones that takes its name from a song by the late Sharon Jones and her band the Dap-Kings.

"The monumental painting. tells the story of a woman duped by an unfaithful lover--with soulful resignation, and with the groovy assurance that the truth was liberating," Crooks writes. "In Thomas's piece, the subject sits... ramrod straight in the centre, with a fabulous golden Afro (made even more luminous by the embedded gold rhinestones) forming a triumphant apex. One is struck by the palpable sense of control, and the unwavering intensity of her gaze!"

Preceded by an excerpt from The Color Purple, the volume also offers a series of Thomas's photo-collage work that pays tribute to the romance between the characters Celie and Shug as depicted in the film adaptation of the 1982 novel by Alice Walker "Shug. was a woman," the Walker excerpt reads. "The most beautiful woman I ever saw She more pretty then my mama. "


Stories for Skeptics and Seekers


Caitlin Press


Body & Soul, an anthology of creative non-fiction, takes a unique approach to writing about one's spiritual journey The contributors share personal stories of their unravelling and re-evaluating, often followed by a revisioning of what is right for them.

While some of the writers were raised with religious traditions and have continued to integrate those practices into their adult lives, others have rejected them altogether Eufemia Fantetti does this with humour in her essay "Repent, Sinner," in which she describes herself as a "cafeteria Catholic"--someone who just shows up for the "big days "

A practising Muslim, Zarqa Nawaz is grateful she "had the freedom to criticize and call attention to the failing of the community when it came to issues such as gender equity" when she created the TV sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie. In "A Great Silence," K.D. Miller tells of making a mask of Hecate, the Crone at the Crossroads. A triple goddess who represents past, present and future, Hecate seems to be the ideal deity to represent these writers' spiritual journeys.

Writing, along with "nature, my Buddhist practice and my son," are Betsy Warland's "spiritual teacher[s]." Ayelet Tsabari says that writing has been her religion, her spiritual practice, her synagogue. Carleigh Baker writes about her desire to learn about where she comes from and who she belongs to in "In a Canoe, Chasing My Metis Grandmother." It's a "clumsy" story, she admits, but it's her story.

Jagtar Kaur Atwal, who was born Sikh, says in "Unfinished Journey" that she grew tired of punishing herself by "pretending to be straight" and writes, "I'm learning to believe in me rather than a deity." A gorgeous essay about Sigal Samuel's study of the Kabbalah with her father, "Kabbalist in the Kitchen" depicts how father and daughter take their study to the kitchen, where Samuel cooks her grandmother's recipes for curry and dal, aloo gobi and bhujia. Her grandmother's ancestors were Iraqi and Samuel realizes that cooking in the way of her grandmother is a spiritual practice.

Like a good meal, these stories stay with the reader long after they are finished.
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Title Annotation:arts & culture
Author:Leddy, Lianne; Strong-Boag, Veronica; Troska, Amber; Ziniuk, Tara Michelle; Leddy, Lianne C.; White,
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2019
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