Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Book Review: The Reason You Walk

This was a difficult book to read. I imagine it was a difficult book to write.
Wabanakwut Kinew is an amazing Anishinaabe man, a musician, journalist, a chief, and now an MLA in Manitoba, and leader of the opposition. His late father was a North Western Ontario chief.

Kinew writes about his father's horrific time in residential schools. With Truth and Reconciliation, I believe we have to read about these stories. We must face the truth.  He is a good writer, and his memoire unfolds beautifully.

He also writes of his own reconciliation with his father, after they came to terms with life. He and his father, and his family, have been to Sundance Festivals and he writes of these experiences. The most interesting part of his life was working on an app to translate verbs. A project he and his father shared to support linguistic revitalization.
Northern Ontario elk
Kinew attended a family graduation ceremony at Harvard, about which he wrote:
" was apparent that things were getting better. A generation ago, education had been the tool of oppression used to hold us down. Now it was the tool of empowerment, and we were using it to lift ourselves up."
Kinew writes of a fast and vision quest that takes place in Agawa, at Lake Superior Provincial Park. We visited there.

He writes of Mishi Pizhiw, and it is a fascinating legend from a deep and rich culture. It is an amazing journey of a brilliant young man.
Mishi Pizhiw

A moving story of father-son reconciliation told by a charismatic aboriginal star. When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who’d raised him.

His father was a chief in NW Ontario.
Wabanakwut Kinew MLA, better known as Wab Kinew, is the Leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. Wikipedia

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Then, there is Jeremy Dutcher...but that may be a whole other chapter.
Dutcher, another Indigenous man, managed to get his hands on his Maliseet ancestors' vocal recordings. His album is amazing.
The album art is based on an old photograph.
Image result for ancestors vocal recordings.    Then, there is Jeremy Dutcher.
The image is based on an archival 1916 photo,
in which Blackfoot chief Ninna-Stako sits,
speaking into the trumpet-like recorder,
 with ethnographer Frances Densmore. 
As I searched for  more information on Wab Kinew, I recalled this performance by Dutcher.
Jeremy Dutcher is a classically trained operatic tenor, composer, activist, and musicologist who takes every opportunity to blend his Wolastoq First Nation roots into the music he creates, blending distinct musical aesthetics that shape-shift between classical, traditional, and pop to form something entirely new. 


Red said...

I read one of his other books but I can't remember which one it was.

Barrie said...

Thank you for reviewing and for including the video links. I ordered a book about residential schools, but haven't read it yet. My TBR pile is seriously out of control. :)

William Kendall said...

Thanks for pointing out his work. I hadn't heard his full first name used before.

Powell River Books said...

I bookmarked it online for purchase. Thanks for letting us know about it. - Margy

Sarah Laurence said...

That is a powerful and empowering true story. Thanks for reviewing his memoir.