Quill & Quire Praises In This Together Anthology!

A selection of personal essays by indigenous and non-indigenous writers, In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation is a call for meaningful reconciliation between colonizers and indigenous people. Edited by author and historian Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, the anthology looks beyond government lip service and into the heart of Canada’s shameful past—and present.

The theme of loss recurs throughout. The indigenous authors collected here use personal stories to show how colonization forced their people into assimilation. The resulting loss of identity is a pervasive theme in the book, but so is the power inherent in the act of reclamation. in “This Many Storied Land,” Kamala Todd illustrates the importance of understanding the realities of colonized land in Canada. Describing her work as aboriginal social planner for the CIty of Vancouver, Todd makes an exceptional point: our cities aren’t built to reflect their indigenous roots. How, she asks, can we acknowledge our country’s history if it’s rendered invisible? Reclaiming history, both physically and symbolically, forces non-indigenous folk to acknowledge what they often easily ignore.
Reconciliation, the book demonstrates, takes effort from all parties. This can often be painful and embarrassing, especially when citizens become more self-reflexive. The majority of the stories by non-indigenous authors collected here are brutally honest, and thus extremely uncomfortable to read. Many run up against the dangerous lure of exotification, sometimes characterizing indigenous people by their skin tones and eye shapes. Carol Shaben’s “Echo” kicks off with a cringe-worthy physical description of “the most exotic” person in her high school, a girl named Echo. Although this description is less than palatable, it serves as a device for highlighting prejudice. By reflecting upon their shallow interactions with indigenous people, the various authors trace a journey of personal growth and self-reflexivity. They learn that their attitudes are an indirect contribution to oppression.
Although this kind of personal recognition marks an important step forward, In This Together demonstrates that colonization is not a thing of Canada’s past, and suggest that real reconciliation is only possible through an honest appraisal of our present. —Nadya Domingo

Search is on for Edmonton’s Fourth Historian Laureate!

My two-year term as YEG’s third Historian Laureate winds up in late March 2016 and so it’s time to find someone new to fill the role. The Edmonton Historical Board and Edmonton Heritage Council co-manage the position and they’ve issued the call for nominations (self-nominations are acceptable too). Deadline is December 16th!

If you or someone you know are a resident of Edmonton, passionate about history and heritage, and have been involved in a committed and considerable way – check it out! It’s an honorarium-based position and there’s a ton of flexibility to add it to your existing life/career.

Feel free to ask me any questions about the role by leaving a comment below, sending me a tweet at @danicanuck, a note on Facebook, or a message through the contact form on this website.


In This Together set to be published by Brindle & Glass in 2016

Brindle & Glass Publishing will publish In This Together: Fifteen True Stories of Real Reconciliation, a collection of reflective magazine-style essays edited by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail.
Metcalfe-Chenail commissioned non-fiction pieces written by Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals from across Canada. The contributors are journalists, writers, academics, visual artists, filmmakers, a city planner, and a lawyer; they carefully consider their own experiences and assumptions about Canadian Indigenous peoples and histories in hopes of sparking further conversation and increased understanding of Canada’s colonial legacy.

The contributors are (in no particular order):

    • Carleigh Baker (Vancouver)
    • Joanna Streetly (Tofino)
    • Erika Luckert (Edmonton/New York City)
    • Donna Kane (Dawson Creek)
    • Kamala Todd (Vancouver/Sunshine Coast)
    • Zacharias Kunuk (Igloolik)
    • Steven Cooper with Twyla Campbell (Sherwood Park, AB)
    • Katherin Edwards (Kamloops)
    • Carol Shaben (Vancouver)
    • Katherine Palmer Gordon (Gabriola Island)
    • Rhonda Kronyk (Edmonton)
    • Emma LaRocque (Winnipeg)
    • Lorri Neilsen Glenn (Halifax)
    • Carissa Halton (Edmonton)
    • Antoine Mountain (Toronto and NWT)

In an afterword that is essentially a candid converstaion between Chief Justice Murray Sinclair and renowned CBC radio host Shelagh Rogers, Sinclair shares his thoughts just as he wraps up the executive summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He says one of the most common statements the commission heard was: “I didn’t know any of this, and I acknowledge that things are not where they should be, and that we can do better. But what can we do? What should we do?” This collection is a response to what we can do.

The project was inspired in part by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but also by Edmonton’s Year of Reconciliation and the Idle No More movement. Metcalfe-Chenail is convinced that Canadians want an open dialogue that encourages everyone to begin the important work of reconciliation in Canada, and maintain the conversation long after the buzz of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report has faded.

Metcalfe-Chenail is Edmonton’s Historian Laureate, author of Polar Winds and For the Love of Flying, and a columnist for CBC Radio Active.
Taryn Boyd, associate publisher of Brindle & Glass, acquired the project. It is slated for release in 2016.
Media contact:
Tori Elliott—Brindle & Glass Publishing

Who We Are: YEG’s Latin American Community


I was lucky to steal a few moments with Ana Laura Pachulo at her home this weekend to discuss the Latin American community in Edmonton.

You can hear my column – and parts of my chat with her – this Wednesday at 4:40pm on CBC Radio Active. The column will be uploaded to SoundCloud shortly afterward as well. In the meantime, a few links to keep you busy:


Camsell Hospital: Summer Updates

I appreciate how much support and interest there has been in Edmonton and across the province around this research. In the wake of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Executive Summary, I think many of us are looking in our own backyards for opportunities to bring reconciliation home.

#MyReconciliationIncludes what Justice Murray Sinclair and the other commissioners outline in that report: truth-telling around the complicated, enmeshed histories of our communities and country is critical to our national well-being. And to move forward, we need to understand and reconcile our different experiences of this place we call Canada. We need to comprehend the government laws and policies, as well as systemic racism in Canadian society, that has led to present-day inequities.

Here is a round up of some of the news stories that have appeared online, in print, and on TV, if you’d like to see how both mainstream and Indigenous media are shedding light on the Camsell’s history and legacy. Thank you to everyone who has been contributing to this work or following it. Miigwetch. Mahsi Cho. Qujannamiik. Hiy Hiy.

Who We Are: YEG’s Pan-African Community

For this week’s CBC Radio Active column, I headed to the University of Alberta to interview Peter Midgley. Peter is the Senior Editor at the University of Alberta Press and the author of a recent memoir, Counting Teeth: A Namibian Story and the upcoming book of poetry based on this material. He has also written or edited several other books for adults and children, many of them focusing on his life and experiences growing up in various African nations.


After a delightful pre-interview in the gardens outside the Faculty of Arts Building, we ventured into a boardroom that had been booked for us by the kind folks in the Faculty.



Peter and I chatted about topics like colonialism, identity, privilege, the immigrant experience, and how communities have re-established themselves in Edmonton. It’s going to be tough to squeeze into a seven-minute column, but I’ll try, knowing it is just a beginning for more learning.

As I prep my column, here are some sites I’m finding useful – hope they are to you too!



This Week’s CBC Column: YEG’s Muslim Community

This week my summer column returns to its normal time slot at 4:40pm on Wednesday. I will be speaking to the long Muslim history in Edmonton with help from social entrepreneur and heritage project leader, Omar Yaqub. If you can’t catch the column then, or you’d like to listen to past editions, please click here for the CBC Edmontont SoundCloud site.


Omar shows off a beautiful Kashmiri prayer rug depicting the Kaaba at Mecca.



The Green Room is tucked away next to Centre High, which apparently has a high proportion of Muslim students.P1020576



The Green Room, I was told, is a safe, serene space for Muslim youth to hang out, observe prayers, and get some studying done.



There is art from around the world on display, including this awesome piece by local artist Adnan Alladen. www.adnanelladen.com



One of the supporting beams shows young members on field trips and during celebrations, wrapped in twinkle lights.


We are currently in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Green Room members have signalled their intentions on the “idea paint” wall.


Learn more!

Opening Hearts and Starting Conversations


For the past six weeks, I’ve been working with other members of RISEdmonton (Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton) to make this heart garden happen. The group’s founder, Miranda Jimmy, was inspired to do this project by the one being installed during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s closing events in Ottawa, as well as ones that were popping up across the country. She led the charge and the rest of us eagerly joined in. Using a Make Something Edmonton project accelerator grant, Miranda scooped up all the wooden hearts she could find at craft stores across the city then glued them to sticks. Community volunteers from the age of 3 to 70+ gathered for two work bees in space donated by Trinity United Church to decorate the hearts, then Miranda sealed them and cured them in her home.



P1020410On the morning of the heart garden, Miranda delivered the 1000+ hearts, and RISE members from across the city brought the additional hearts they had created to the southwest lawn of Edmonton’s City Hall. We gathered in a circle to participate in a traditional smudging ceremony with a local Elder, where RISE members ritually cleansed themselves and the hearts with the smoke of sage and sweetgrass. In this welcoming, inclusive environment, we were all invited to reflect on what brought us together and celebrate our work toward reconciliation.





It was a tremendously moving experience reading the messages of hope, compassion, understanding from survivors of residential schools, descendants of settlers, and newcomers. There were also pleas for help in healing. Many of us teared up reading them, imagining the hurt, loneliness and trauma of the “child taken and the parent left behind”.







My hope is that communities across the country can be inspired by this initiative. If you would like to learn more about it and RISE, please visit our Facebook page or get in touch.






Thank you to everyone who encouraged, supported, and promoted this work through the media, social media, and your networks. Let’s spread the word: we’re all in this together!



Speaking to Edmonton’s Canadian Club this week

On Wednesday I will speak to the local chapter of the Canadian Club, at the beautiful Chateau Lacombe hotel, following in the footsteps of many luminaries and dignitaries!  I will trace a “Century of Flying in the Canadian North” through a narrative that explores the hope and heartbreak of aviation North of 60.

Looking forward to singing for my supper – or lunch, as it were!


Your help is needed!

A woman from Cambridge Bay, NU (Cathy Aitok) has contacted me through my Ghosts of Camsell site looking for help tracking down what happened to her grandfather. He was sent to the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital for prosthetics for his feet in May 1960:

Joseph Illulik“He was sent out from Perry River/Island – Cambridge Bay area. My mom said he went on the plane and never came back – she was orphaned, her mother died when she was 9 years old. His name was Joseph Elulik or Illulik. I don’t know how it would have been spelled back in the day. I don’t know what his Eskimo Dog tag number was, and can’t find that out. He would have been possibly late 30’s when he was sent out, or early 40’s.”

This woman, her daughters, and her 72-year-old mother (Louisa Baril) are coming to Edmonton in late June and would like to find his gravesite so they can get some closure. Can you help? He’s not listed on the St. Albert Cemetery cairn and was likely Catholic. Any leads would be much appreciated!




New updates from July 17:

Cathy and Louisa came at the end of June but we didn’t know where he was buried by then, unfortunately. The search continues and your help is still important. CBC Edmonton and APTN both ran stories on this recently to try and connect them to information and alert folks to this ongoing situation. Thanks to Andrea Huncar and Brandi Morin for their interest in the story and dedication to investigating this history and its legacy.

DMC, Cathy Aitok and Louisa Paril

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.