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Alfred’s book named one of year’s best

Gerald Taiaiake Alfred’s 'It’s all About the Land: Collected Talks and Interviews on Indigenous Resurgence' was named among the top 100 books released this fall by the Hill Times newspaper. Courtesy University of Toronto Press

Gerald Taiaiake Alfred said it’s a pleasant surprise to see his most recent book make the top-100 best books of 2023 list by the Hill Times. The Ottawa-based newspaper extensively covers Parliament, and is widely read among federal officials. 

His book, It’s all About the Land: Collected Talks and Interviews on Indigenous Resurgence, has been out since mid-September. The Kahnawa’kehró:non academic said it’s the first he’s written for the general public. 

“To have them mention that this is one of the best books, that was pretty meaningful to me,” Alfred said. “I think people are questioning what reconciliation is all about, and whether or not it’s, number one, effective in its own stated goals, and number two, whether it really is enough to address the injustice of what’s happened in the country.

“There’s people who think that the perspective that I brought, which is very critical of the idea of reconciliation, is something worth paying attention to.”

The book was also featured by Quills & Quire, a magazine dedicated to the Canadian booktrade, in its highlights of the best non-fiction books released in the fall of 2023. 

“This collection of speeches and interviews by the Kahnawake Mohawk activist and scholar explains how the Canadian government’s reconciliation agenda is another form of colonization,” wrote Attila Berki, the magazine’s associate publisher, “and presents a radical vision for achieving justice for Indigenous Peoples that is rooted in the teachings and laws of the ancestors.”

Alfred has given talks about the book in Kahnawake, Akwesasne, out west in Vancouver Island, and at universities like McGill and the University of Montreal since its publishing. His next talk is coming up on January 25 at Concordia University. 

“I think it gets right at the kind of thing we need to be thinking about here in Canada, in terms of reconstructing a more just and respectful relationship between white Canadians and Indigenous people,” said David I. Waddington, who invited Alfred for the talk, and works as a professor in the philosophy of education at Concordia.

Waddington said he also plans to add a chapter of the book to his syllabus next semester. 

“This is the kind of book I think any person who’s interested in these kinds of questions can pick up and access,” Waddington added. “He has a very clear and accessible writing style.”

Alfred has two other talks scheduled, including one at the University of Toronto in February, and another at the Toronto Metropolitan University – formerly known as Ryerson – in April.

“I think people are intrigued by my perspective, because most people in Canada these days are expected to support reconciliation,” he said about those in attendance at his talks thus far – a mix of Onkwehón:we and non-Indigenous people.

“It’s really not written for non-Natives to get behind – it’s written for them to open their eyes, and to understand what I’m trying to get Native people behind,” he said. “I’m trying to revitalize our movement for nationhood, instead of cooperating with the assimilationist agenda of the Canadian government.” 

miriam@easterndoor.com

This article was originally published in print on January 12, in issue 33.02 of The Eastern Door.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.

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Miriam Lafontaine is a reporter with the Eastern Door. Her work has appeared in Le Devoir, CBC Montreal, CBC New Brunswick as well as the Toronto Star.