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Hugh MacLennan Poetry #30: The Winter Countby Dilys Leman
Synopses & Reviews
Although relatively few First Nations joined the 1885 Mand#233;tis insurgence, the Canadian government reacted punitively, instituting draconian "Indian" policies whose ill-effects continue to resonate today. The Winter Count traces these developments alongside another narrative - the debate over the sanity of Mand#233;tis leader Louis Riel. Dilys Leman weaves original poems and reconstituted archival texts, including medical reports, diaries, treaties, recipes, even a phrenological analysis, to create a montage that both presents and disrupts official history. Her narrative questions politically expedient myths that First Nations were allies of the Mand#233;tis, would rise again in greater numbers, and needed to be scrupulously controlled to secure the opening of the West. Leman evokes the voices of historical and imagined characters to convey a political landscape teetering into lunacy and a government obsessed with its own vision of nation-building. We hear a bureaucrat extol the merits of the pass system, a court interpreter's ludicrous translation of treason felony into Cree, and Dr Augustus Jukes agonizing about his role on the secret medical commission tasked with reassessing Rieland#8217;s sanity, which would determine if he could be executed. The Winter Count is a cautionary tale about moral responsibility. As Leman laments, our failure to be accountable human beings will surely haunt us: "Laudable pus / Political speeches / This water / brought too late / to a boil / Lance and forceps / rattling / their pot"
Challenging the "official story" about the role of First Nations in the 1885 Rebellion and the medical commission that sealed Louis Rieland#8217;s fate.
Defenders of the "business-as-usual" approach reject climate action as too costly and in conflict with economic growth, while downplaying the severity of climate change. Supporters of ecological modernization, or "green growth," on the other hand, aim to use technology and efficiency to delink economic expansion from emissions and find business opportunities through environmental action. While mainstream debate has focused on these two pro-growth models, Hayden pays particular attention to the struggles and limited inroads of a third, more radical perspective: the idea of sufficiency, which challenges the continued growth of production and consumption in the already-affluent global North and asks, how much is enough? Drawing on interviews, participation in climate-related events, and analysis of key documents, Hayden shows the role these paradigms have played in Britain, one of the worlds leaders in climate reform, and in Canada, a nation at the bottom of international climate change rankings.
About the Author
Dilys Leman is the great-great granddaughter of Dr Augustus Jukes (1821-1905), senior surgeon of the North-West Mounted Police during the 1885 Rebellion. She lives in Toronto.
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