Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Books I Should Have Read This Summer


Share/Bookmark
So two months ago I started writing this list of books I was hoping to read this summer. I'm a slow reader at the best of times, and the last few years I've just had so much trouble concentrating that it's very hard for me to get into a book no matter how much I enjoy it and want to read it. Usually publicly declaring I was going to read something at least marginally increases my chances of getting to it.

Needless to say I never posted the list, and I haven't read any of these books. I suck. Between vacations and various people being sick or out of town and a busier-than-usual summer at work, I just haven't gotten much reading done these past few months. Maybe I'll have to bump this to my fall reading list.

A God in the Shed
by J-F Dubeau

A couple of years ago I submitted my book Hell Comes to Hogtown for a contest at Inkshares. Obviously it didn't win, but this is the book that I thought should have won. It didn't either, which is why it took so long to come out. It's been quite a wait so I'm really looking forward to it. It's has the creepy, brutal feel of a Scandinavian murder mystery with a supernatural bent. The first couple of chapters are really dark, so we'll see how this goes.

The Complete Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 
Douglas Adams

At the complete other end of the spectrum... it's been ages since I read the original HHGG books, and I must embarrassingly admit that I've never read the later ones. I was beyond pleased when I found this for $5 at a thrift store. I very much look forward to returning to the universe of Arthur, Ford Prefect et al, but I must admit I can't read Marvin the Paranoid Android without hearing Alan Rickman's voice in my head.
Jem and the Holograms Volume 5
by Kelly Thompson and Gisele Lagace

Yup, I'm a Jem fan and I won't deny it.

To be fair, this is NOT the cartoon you may (or may not) remember for the 80s, and it's certainly not that abomination of a film that came out a couple of years ago. The characters in the new Jem comics by the extraordinary Kelly Thompson are far more modern, fully-fleshed and real. They are body- and - LGBTQ-positive. They are not just barbie-doll-esque caricatures fighting over guys and trying to murder each other (wassup, Misfits) but actual human beings with goals and opinions and ups and downs you can relate to. I hope my daughter can read this book and find role-models to look up to. Hell, I hope my son can, too.
The Vagrant
by Peter Newman

The Vagrant was a big deal a couple of years ago when it came out, and it and its sequels continue to garnish rave reviews. Plus Peter Newman is a really cool guy. It's the story of a silent protagonist protecting a baby as they travel through a monstrous wasteland, so it sounds pretty badass. And a goat is very pivotal to the story for some reason, so I have to check this out. I picked up the Kindle version on a 99-cent sale so I have no excuse not to get around to it.
Beyond Redemption
by Michael R. Fletcher

Another book that was huge in my circles last year, it's the first of a trilogy that Fletcher's publisher stunningly did not pick up for future volumes, despite winning critical acclaim and even a couple of awards. It just didn't have that big sales drive out of the gate to convince the publishers that it was worth investing in future volumes. Much like movie studios, publishers as of late are more concerned with the "opening weekend box office" than anything else.

Mike has gone on to self-publish the second volume with the third forth-coming, and he continues to do well for himself and has published another series with a different publisher. He'll be fine, plus he's Canadian so he has that going for him.

Canada
by Mike Myers

I had to throw some Canadian non-fiction in here somewhere. While I doubt this has the hard-hitting satirical bite of the Canadaland book I reviewed a few months ago, sometimes it's nice to read something funny and positive. Part memoir, part history of Canada, I'm also curious to read exactly what the hell Myers has been up to the last few years. He was on top of the world with stuff like Austin Powers and Shrek, and then he just kind of vanished.

Save the Cat
by Blake Snyder

For those not familiar, this is a very famous and popular screenwriting book that brought to the mainstream a writing formula used by virtually every Hollywood film in existence. It breaks down, in mathematical detail, exactly where every beat in a script should go: when the hero should be introduced, when the theme is revealed, when the hero should suffer his greatest setback in Act II, etc. While it's intended for writing movies it translates very well to novels as well. I will shamelessly admit I've used the formula myself from time to time, even though I've never read the book it came from. I aim to correct this oversight.
King John of Canada
by Scott Gardiner

I found this book on my office's "leave a book, take a book" shelf, which is usually full of crap (Windows 95 for Dummies, or a French copy of 50 Shades, anyone?), but this looks fascinating. For those not familiar, it's the story of Canadian and British government collapsing in a series of weird accidents, and then a random guy in Toronto is named King of Canada. Only it turns out he's really good at being king, and fixes all of the countries problems with common sense solutions. It's obviously satire, but it came out during the height of the country's Conservative led-years, so I'm very curious to see where it goes.

(Side note: Funny how bad we thought it was during during the Conservative Harper years in Canada, and now we're looking down South and I bet you guys wish you had Stephen Harper running your country...)


###
Read More »

Thursday, August 17, 2017

BEST. NIGHT. EVER. Blog Tour!


Share/Bookmark
Friend of the blog Stephanie Faris has a brand-new book out this month, co-written by a host of talented writers. It sounds like a really fun premise and story so I was thrilled to help her get the word out. Details are below, as well as your chance to win an autographed copy!

THE BOOK!


Love Actually meets Adventures in Babysitting in this hilarious novel written by seven authors about seven classmates who are preparing for a crazy night at their middle school dance.

Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.

One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one epic night! Gail Nall, Dee Romito, Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, and Jen Malone have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.

THE LINKS!


THE WRITERS!

One of Rachele Alpine’s first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. Rachele is a high school English teacher by day, a wife and mother by night, and a writer during any time she can find in between.  She lives in Cleveland, Ohio where she writes middle grade and young adult novels. Visit her at RacheleAlpine.com.

Ronni Arno Blaisdell is the author of Ruby Reinvented. She has written for several magazines, blogs, and websites. In a previous life she worked as a publicist in Hollywood, and eventually built a home in Maine. She is a keen SCBWI member and contributor to the KidLiterati.com blog. Visit her online at ronniarno.com.

Alison Cherry is the author of the YA novels Red, For Real and Look Both Ways, and the middle grade novels Willows vs. Wolverines and The Classy Crooks Club. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, dance, and opera productions. This whole “writing books” thing is just a cover for the international crime ring she runs out of her Brooklyn apartment. (Shhh, don’t tell.) Visit her online at AlisonCherryBooks.com.

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on the small business blogs for Intuit and Go Payment and she is a featured columnist for SmallBizTechnology.com. She lives in Nashville with her husband. Visit her online at StephanieFaris.com.

Jen Malone is a former Hollywood publicist who once spent a year traveling the world solo, met her husband on the highway (literally), and went into labor with her identical twins while on a rock star’s tour bus. These days she saves the drama for her books. Jen is also the author of the middle grade novels At Your Service and The Art of the Swap, coauthor of the You’re Invited series, and wrote the YA novels Map to the Stars and Wanderlost. You can visit her online at JenMaloneWrites.com.

Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail is the author of the middle grade novel Breaking the Ice, the coauthor of You’re Invited and You’re Invited Too, and the author of the young adult novel Exit Stage Left. You can find her online at GailNall.com and on Twitter as @GaileCN. Visit her online at GailNall.com.

Dee Romito lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, where she and her family are steadily checking items off their own bucket list of adventures. You’re likely to find her at the local ice cream shop, writing at a cafĂ©, or curled up on the couch with her cats. And while she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. To join the fun and create your own bucket list, visit TheBFFBucketList.com.

THE GIVEAWAY!

The Rafflecopter giveaway is for a free hardback copy of Best. Night. Ever. signed by Stephanie Faris!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

###

Read More »

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

INTERVIEW with Author JB Reynolds


Share/Bookmark
Today in my ongoing series of author interviews I'm chatting with JB Reynolds. Reynolds has several excellent stories available (check out Amazon or his website). I've read a couple of them and was quite pleased, he has an easy but poetic style that really sucks you in. He's especially good at making unpalatable things seem sympathetic or even enjoyable. I highly recommend his "Art of Cigarette Smoking." If he can make cigarettes seem inviting, you know he has a gift!

THE AUTHOR!

J.B. Reynolds lives in rural Northland, New Zealand, where he raises children and chickens. He writes humorous short fiction, where tragedy meets comedy and character reigns supreme. His first short story was published while he was a university student, and in between that and a return to serious writing in 2016, he has worked as a graphic designer, landscaper, ski and snowboard technician, librarian, apple picker, and baker of muffins and teacakes.

Nowadays, when not writing, he’s a husband, father, and high school teacher (not necessarily in that order). He enjoys sailing, cycling, and playing music, really loud, when his wife and kids aren’t at home. He has a big garden, where he likes to get his fingernails dirty, and he loves to eat the things that grow in it.

He is currently working on his Crossing The Divide short story series. The stories in the series feature different characters and switch between locations in New Zealand and Australia, but they are all, in a way, coming of age stories and are linked through the theme of relationships.

THE INTERVIEW!

From what I've read of your work, I can't easily place it in any single genre like "mystery" or "romance." What do you call your genre and what drew you to write in it?
I’ve struggled a little to even define the genre for the short stories I’m writing at the moment. I guess it’s humorous contemporary fiction. In some ways, they are coming-of-age stories, but with characters in their late teens and early twenties rather than adolescents. I’m writing in this genre because these were the ideas I had in my head that were the most developed. They’re also stories that have arisen out of my own life experience. Once I’ve finished this series, I have some ideas for short stories that are more fantastical, and I have an idea for a fantasy novel that I’ll get to after that. My reading preferences tend towards sci-fi and fantasy, and that’s where I want to head with my writing.

We all love some good fantasy and sci-fi. Which writers inspire you?
I love the short stories of Kurt Vonnegut and Will Self. Vonnegut is the short story master and has some great tips on writing short stories that I always try to keep in mind when I’m writing them. Will Self is both disturbing and hilarious, and a much better short story writer than novelist, in my opinion. His Grey Area and The Quantum Theory of Insanity short story collections are brilliant. My favourite novelists are Iain M. Banks, because of the grand scope of his imagination; Terry Pratchett, because he manages to be both profoundly silly and profoundly serious at the same time; and Paul Auster, because his storytelling seems so graceful and elegant and effortless. I’m sure it isn’t; he probably sweats blood like most other writers, but that’s how it reads on the page. But I think the writer who most inspired me to write was Hunter S. Thompson. His passion for what he does just blazes out of the page. There was a point in my life when I wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson, but I didn’t have the balls.

Few of us have the balls to trip balls like he did. 

Change of topic, but this one is always a hot button with independent authors: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely! And the great thing about ebooks is that you can change them. I trained as a graphic designer so I’ve done my own, but you can always improve things.  I’ve changed mine three times, so far. To be honest, I’m not the world’s greatest graphic designer and the first two iterations were a bit shit. It’s only after round three that I’ve got something I’m happy with. I’d like to employ an artist to do some drawings for me for future covers as my drawing skills aren’t up to the required standard, especially for sci-fi and fantasy, which is where I want to go with my writing.

For what it's worth I quite like your covers. Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time. Full time is the long-term goal, but currently I get an hour or so every morning to write during the week, a little more in the weekends. Since I started this routine in January of 2016, it’s been life-changing, and I’m much happier for it. It’s slow going, but every little bit helps. This year, I’ve gone down to four days a week at work, and I’m going to spend that one day a week I have without children to look after doing some writing, but also trying to get the bulk of my marketing and admin tasks done.

I feel your pain about juggling kids and work, but building a routine helps tremendously. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
The long term goal is exactly that; to make a career out of it. I want to be successful enough to do it full-time and pay the bills with the money I earn from it. The short and medium term goals are to write more books and grow my audience.

Read More »

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bang On (#IWSG August 2017)


Share/Bookmark
Well that sucked.



A couple of months ago I talked about how I submitted my book, Ten Thousand Days, to a self-published novel competition. I mentioned that it was some pretty stiff competition (300 entries, many of them by successful, established authors), and that the judging was pretty loose, as the reviewers involved all had very different tastes and were not even required to read all the books, but just to give them a reasonable chance to catch their interest before culling them from the pile.

I knew I wasn't going to win. I knew I wasn't even even going to be a finalist (again, the competition was very, very strong), but I thought at the very least I would get a little exposure and a half-decent review from a notable fantasy review site that I could use in future marketing. I know I'm not a stellar writer by any means, but I don't think I'm the worst, either. I figured I would be eliminated (in my category) without fanfare in the middle of the pack.

You could say I was somewhat floored when I awoke last Monday to discover Ten Thousand Days had been the very first book eliminated.


For context, Ten Thousand Days was cut before the book that was so poorly rewritten the reviewer couldn't get past a few pages. Before the book that had been disqualified for technically being ineligible for the competition. My book was the first one at the top of the list.

Needless to say I was supremely disappointed, completely beside myself. I knew I wasn't going to win, but what could I have done so wrong to be brushed off so quickly?

It would seem the reviewer took offence to an off-handed joke on page 5 and didn't read any further. She thought it was inappropriate and turned her off from the story. Sure it wasn't a great joke, but I never dreamed anyone would take offence to it. It's not even as bad as stuff you hear on prime-time sit-coms. But what can I do? Those are the breaks when you submit your books to reviewers, agents, publishers - you're at the whims of their tastes, and frustrating as it may be that's what you sign up for. Writing is a very subjective thing, everyone likes different stuff and you can't change that.


I'm downplaying it now since I have some distance and perspective, but I will admit I was really upset when it first happened. I've gotten tons of rejections lately but this one really stung, probably because of how public it was (parts of the review were shared on Facebook and Goodreads). I refrained from writing about it right away because I was angry and didn't want to say something I would regret. A few days ago I wrote my first draft of this post but then deleted half of it, because it went into details that I didn't want to dwell on.

I'm trying to let it go. I realized that yes, I might feel like I was treated unfairly, but do you know who else gets treated unfairly? Everyone. Some a lot more than others. (Like, a lot, but I'm not going to go into that now.) I asked for this. I knew what I was getting into, and I can't blame a reviewer for their opinion, tastes or perspective. It's disappointing, but it is what it is.


So yeah, I'm trying to acknowledge my feelings and accept them as valid, but also move on because it's not helpful to dwell on such miserable things. And ranting and raving will only lead to the Dark Side (of the Internet). I'm trying to find lessons from the exercise for the next time. Developing a thicker skin is certainly one. Finding markets for people who will better get my work is another.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

#


The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/.


###
Read More »

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

INTERVIEW with Author and Blogger Trin Carl


Share/Bookmark
Today I do a sit-down interview with Trin Carl, a writer and prolific blogger and book reviewer from Minnesota.


THE INTERVIEW!

I know you are working on your book, a YA novella called "O Brother." Do you find feedback from online writers’ critique forums helpful in your writing?
Online critiquers are especially helpful.  To receive such immediate feedback from writers on websites like Scribophile has helped me so much.  Sometimes in person critique groups can be intimidating for beginning writers so meeting writers in an online setting has its potential.  I suppose it can be compared to introverts finding their love on an online site like match.com.

My regular readers know I have some unusual writing habits, and I understand you do, too. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of writing in varied environments vs. writing in the same environment everyday?  
I never write from home.  I feel home is a place you hang your hat but it’s also filled with distractions.  I like to write away from home so that I feel like I’m truly at work and where my ideas flourish.

That's a great way to look at it. Every writer has different techniques and processes. If you could talk to any famous writer, what would you say?  
I would ask the writer about their routines, their motivation.  I would ask them about those secrets in a novel that remain mysterious yet amazing.  Let’s say for instance I had a sit down with Donna Tartt, I would really want to know how she found the time and energy to write such long beautiful narratives.  My writing tends to swing towards the shorter novella so I would really like to know how she works out her outlines to draw out the story.

You review a number of books on your blog. What do you look for in a book? Do you have any advice for readers?
Readers rarely get posed this question.  But I think it’s important to address the reader.  Therefore: Reader what are you looking for when you pick up a book?  Is it for time pass?  Is it because someone told you to read it?  What makes you reading a book so special?

What about other kinds of entertainment? What is your favorite movie?
 I loved the movie Kite Runner.  I would love to have a son like the character of Hassan. Someone who is so genuine and forgiving and humble.  Hassan’s character is a devoted servant and loyal friend to his brother Amir.  Hassan eventually dies to the hands of the Taliban, in Afghanistan for defending his father’s house from takeover.  


THE AUTHOR!

Trin Carl writes YA and Contemporary fiction.  She enjoys dance and writing her two blogs50schoolsn90days and theglobaldig.blogspot.com. From Minnesota, Trin enjoys the outdoors and all the seasons, especially the fall as it reminds her of her days teaching and attending school at Metropolitan State University.  She can be contacted on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter.com/trincarl

Read More »

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

STRANGELY FUNNY IV Release! (#IWSG July 2017)


Share/Bookmark
IWSG Day! It came at a perfect time, since last week was absolute shit for me personally, but I'll spare you the details of that.

The one bright spot was that I found out STRANGELY FUNNY IV, the anthology featuring my short story, was released on Monday! I've been waiting months for this, and it's finally a reality!

Behold, the appropriately weird cover:


Yes, the cover depicts zombies playing basketball with skulls. Possibly their own heads. It's the kind vibe that this humourous supernatural/horror anthology is going for.

The story I contributed is called "Save or Die." It's a comic fantasy in the vein of my "Werebear vs Landopus" stories, but it's way less obscene. It's like a PG-13 Grimdork. If you're into self-aware comic fantasy and roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, you'll probably appreciate my story. I received a proof copy of the book and everything I've read so far is pretty great.

I was absolutely stunned earlier this year when my story was accepted, not only because it was the first real acceptance I've received for one of my submissions, but it was the very first time I submitted that particular story anywhere. To compare, I've had another story (one I personally thought was better) rejected 12 times already this year. I guess with "Save or Die" I just had the right piece for the right market at the right time.

Strangely Funny IV is edited by Sarah E. Glenn and published by Mystery and Horror, LLC. You can check it out here.

#

IWSG Question for July:
What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Ideas are worth shit.

Everyone has ideas. Many of them suck, some of them are fabulous, but until you actually make something out of them, they're worthless. A finished story is worth thousands of good ideas.

How many people out there say they have great ideas for books but have just never gotten around to writing it? Or have half-finished manuscripts they've been working on for years? I was there for a long time myself, and I always felt crappy about it.

I didn't feel better until I actually finished my first book and got it out there. Sure, it's not setting the world on fire, but just the act of finishing it and putting it out there into the world is a tremendously satisfying accomplishment. That alone puts me ahead of many people, and it's an achievement I really don't stop to appreciate often enough.

So I'm going to stop and appreciate it today. I need every victory I can get.

Get out there and make your ideas into something real. You'll feel way better once you do.



#
The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/.

Read More »

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Real Origins of Canada


Share/Bookmark
This Saturday, July 1st, is the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation (it's also the 101st anniversary of another important Canadian event you can read about here). It is not the anniversary of Canada's independence, nor is the date of the founding of the country. And it's certainly not the beginning of people living here. No, that goes back way, way farther than 150 measly years ago.

The history of Canada begins with the arrival of the first nomadic aboriginal peoples somewhere between 50,000 and 17,000 years ago to the Northern extremes of the Alaska and the Yukon. They were unable to move any further south due to glacial ice. By 16,000 years ago, the ice had receded enough that these Paleo-Indian people were able to migrate further south and populate the continent. Most of them continued their hunter-gatherer ways, but a few settled down to more permanent communities. For example, a recently-discovered site on the Haida Gwaii islands (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands) in British Columbia may be the oldest inhabited site in Canada. Ruins found off the coast indicate that people lived there at least 13,700 years ago.


Even more incredibly, nearly fourteen millennia later, the Haida people still live there.

Well, sort of. We'll get there, but as usual with these stories, it's going to get pretty bleak.

The islands of the Haida Gwaii archipelago were much larger thousands of years ago, which explains why the ruins are currently underwater. It was also probably attached to the mainland, which explains how the Haida ended up there in the first place. The ancestors of the Haida were the Koryaks, a nomadic people who originated in Russia and traveled across the Bering straight during the last ice age. The Koryaks practiced a form of Raven animism that evolved into spiritual practices still followed by the Haida today. The Haida also developed their own distinct language as well as a complex class system consisting of two main clans: Eagles and Ravens. Links and diversity were gained through marriage between the clans. This system was also important for the transfer of wealth within the Nation, as the two clans were reliant on each other for the building of longhouses, totem poles and other items of cultural importance.

Haida long houses and totem poles, circa 1878.

The Haida were a seafaring, matriarchal society. Their nation comprised some 100 villages in the Islands and were noted traders, developing trade routes with other First Nation tribes on the mainland as far south as California.

First contact with Europeans came in the 1770s, and as usual ruined everything. Haida Gwaii became an important part of the fur trade and the gold rush through the 18th and 19th centuries, and its "ownership" was disputed between the British and America. The Haida seemed to put little stock in these European claims, however, and like most First Nations alternated between helping and hindering the Colonials. The Haida were not to be trifled with at sea, though, and sunk or captured numerous European ships during this time. It was searching for the wreck of one of these ships that scientists discovered the ancient Haida site I previously mentioned.

The remains of a 2,500 year-old stone and wood fish weir (a sort of fish trap).

The Haida Gwaii islands themselves have been called by some the "Galapagos of the North," due to its unique climate and terrain. Thanks to its isolation from the mainland and favourable coastal winds, it has developed a distinct biocultural zone with many endemic (unique) plants and animals, including subspecies of black bears, otters and bats, as well as the Nootka cypress, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce not seen on the mainland.

One famous sitka-spruce in particular was the Kiidk'yaas ("Ancient Tree" in the Haida language, or the Golden Spruce), a one-of-a-kind 300-year-old spruce with a rare genetic mutation - a lack of chlorophyll in the tree's branches caused it to take on a striking yellow-gold colour. According to Haida mythology the Kiidk'yaas came about when a young boy disrespected nature and caused a terrible storm to descend on his village. When he and his grandfather fled the village, the grandfather warned the boy not to look back. The boy disobeyed, and was immediately turned into the Golden Spruce where he stood. The Haida people said the tree would stand to be admired until the last generation.

Kiidk'yaas was cut down by an unemployed engineer, Grant Hadwin, as a protest against illegal logging in 1997 (see, I told you we ruin everything). Hadwin was arrested and released on bail, then disappeared while trying to paddle his kayak 100 kilometres to the mainland in the dead of winter. The remains of his kayak were discovered later that year, though Hadwin was never seen again. I'd like to think that Mother Nature meted out her own revenge.

At the time of Colonial contact, the population of the islands was about 30,000. In the 1800s, 90% of the population was killed off by small box and other European diseases, so that by 1900 only 350 Haida people remained. Today the population of the islands now sits at 4500, with 45% identifying as Haida. Of their unique language, only 50 speakers are known to remain, and all are over 70 years old. Though efforts continue to be made to preserve their culture, in 2006 UNESCO named some of the islands as historic sites, and referenced the Haida as a "vanished" people.

Of course, Canada hasn't completely ignored the very first people of these lands. They may not always treat them well, but at least they don't pretend they don't exist. Usually. The artwork on the back of the old Canadian $20 bill (the one before our current plastic space money) actually featured artwork by a Haida artist, Bill Reid. The image on the far left is of Raven and the First Men (which is actually pretty cool so I'll blow that up below), and the prominent image on the right is Spirit of Haida Gwaii, a massive bronze sculpture that sits outside the Canadian embassy in Washington DC. The background also depicts traditional Haida imagery.



All that is pretty cool, except that the imagery was changed with the advent of the new bank note series in 2012. Now the $20 bill depicts the Vimy Ridge Memorial, which is an important event to remember, but it's also a memorial to white people fighting other white people in another country. 

Anyway, Haida Gwaii remains an amazing and fascinating piece of Canadian history, as well as an unprecedented link to the past. It is a popular tourist site for both these reasons as well as its unique natural environment. It is a definitely a place we should strive to protect, learn from, and if we can, visit to experience it ourselves. Especially before it gets sucked into the Pacific by an earthquake.

#


Read More »
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...