Up Ghost River

Up Ghost River is the memoir of Edmund Metatawabin, written as a first hand account of life in northern Canada as an aboriginal young person. His life takes a tumble into the hell of St. Annes, a notoriously violent residential school, when the town officials press his family to make him go. He leaves behind a loving family and a life steeped in native tradition and self-sufficiency. It is a deeply personal account and will shake your beliefs in a fair and just Canada.

A comprehensive review with interviews from the CBC. The review from The National Post.

The Right Honourable Paul Martin recommends the book:

“Moving documentation, recollected tragedy and personal triumph, this book is a necessary first-hand account of being First Nations in contemporary Canada. From the atrocities of residential schools, to the present-day policy challenges, Up Ghost River will open your eyes to the all-too-recent history of Canada’s First Peoples, through the experiences of a resilient individual and his family.”

Up Ghost River

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The Right to be Cold

The Right to be ColdSheila Watt-Cloutier shares her story in the Walrus. Naomi Klein reviews the book in the Globe & Mail. Klein writes,

Part of what makes this book so illuminating is that it insists on being more than a manifesto. In weaving politics with her own life story, themes emerge that challenge the tendency to treat climate change as some new and singular threat. In Watt-Cloutier’s narrative, just as dog sleds have been replaced by snow machines, so the emissions from the entire fossil-fuel-driven global economy are threatening the survival of her culture. And just as pollutants from industrial activities have ended up in the flesh and fat of the animals Inuit people rely on for food, so these same industrial activities are causing global temperatures to rise, threatening the continued existence of these same animals. Climate change, in other words, is nothing new – it is the ultimate expression of the same threats that have been ravaging this part of the world for a very long time.

Inuit culture, however, is far from dead and in fact is thriving despite the odds. That, argues Watt-Cloutier, is very good news, because her people’s hard-won knowledge about how to live sustainably on the land “could serve as a model for all nations, compelling the world to make the strong cuts in emissions needed to mitigate climate change.”

Rae Spoon First Spring Grass Fire

A moving memoir from Rae Spoon, a talented singer/songwriter whom I first heard sing in the documentary, My Prairie Home (available for rent at NFB). The memoir is full of intriguing and sometimes heart breaking life memories forged in a turbulent childhood of strict religion and a threatening father figure. The story is intimately connected to the broader issues of gender in Canadian society and the tyranny of religion.Rae Spoon

There’s Lead in Your Lipstick

Finally a Canadian version of what to avoid in beauty products with a practical resource of where to find toxin free products. Gillian Deacon’s book isn’t ground breaking, nor does it have any new information about the dirty state of affairs in the beauty product industry, but it offers the information in an easy to read conversational style. It focuses on the most important toxins and offers advice from personal experience on what alternatives are out there.

This book has been a catalyst for me. I had already been using safe cosmetics, but I was still using soaps, body lotions, hand cream and household cleaners that contained enough toxins to knock out a horse. Finding decent replacement products has not been as hard as I thought. There are new product lines that have sprung up and they are not only being consumer safe, they are also using lovely natural scents and appealing packaging. In other words, it is no longer just marketed to hippies in burlap sacks and paper bags, but they have realized that the modern woman uses all of her senses to decide which products she will introduce into her beauty regime. We need to send a message to our cosmetic and beauty producers that only the safest and purest ingredients will be acceptable – and only buy those that comply.

Visit the SKIN DEEP web site to test what is in the products that you use. Just plug in the name of the product that you use and it will tell you how hazardous it is for your health on a scale 0 – 10 plus name all of the dangerous ingredients. You can search by product name, company name or ingredient and find safer products.

David Suzuki talks about the “dirty dozen” cosmetic chemicals to avoid including industrial chemicals –  carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. His site not only offers information about how to green your personal care products, but how to avoid the toxic chemicals that have creeped into other areas of our lives.

Put this handy guide onto your phone or mobile device for reference when you are shopping.

These online shopping sites offer clean products and are based on Canada. Well.ca  Saffron Rouge

Goodness Me, The Horn of Plenty and  Body Sense also carry safe products in the Hamilton area.