Dou­ble book launch: stand­ing room only

Moose Jaw - - Front Page - By Dou­glas Hall­man for Moose Jaw Ex­press

More than 70 peo­ple at­tended the dou­ble book launch of two Moose Jaw born au­thors re­cently at Java Ex­press. Ev­ery chair was filled, peo­ple were stand­ing and the place was crowded as Martha Tracey in­tro­duced Dr. Ryan Meili, a fam­ily physi­cian in Saska­toon who has writ­ten A Healthy So­ci­ety: How a Fo­cus on Health Care can Re­vive Cana­dian Democ­racy (Purich, 2012). Don Mitchell in­tro­duced Gary En­gler, an elected of­fi­cer for Bri­tish Columbia’s Me­dia Union. He is the au­thor of The Year We Be­came Us (Fern­wood, 2012). Taylor Carl­son, the owner of Java Ex­press, pro­vided the venue, and Nel­son and Wanda Reid were on hand from Post Hori­zon Book­sellers (57 High St. W.). They spon­sored the event, and they have copies of both books in stock (693-4243). En­gler said his book “is a novel about the 1962 Saskatchewan doc­tors’ strike as seen through the eyes of a 12-year- old boy and a 13-yearold girl. Roy, the son of a union ac­tivist, is a com­mit­ted so­cial­ist. Kather­ine is the daugh­ter of a Regina sur­geon. Both are forced to write let­ters to Pres­i­dent (J.F.) Kennedy dur­ing the Cuban mis­sile cri­sis as pun­ish­ment for al­ways ar­gu­ing pol­i­tics in their Grade 8 class at St. Michael.” Meili in­tro­duced his non-fic­tion work with a de­scrip­tion of the con­tent: “I dis­cuss the so­cial de­ter­mi­nants of health as the key to a po­lit­i­cal re­newal fo­cused on hu­man health. Each chapter starts with the story of a pa­tient, some­one I’ve worked with in in­ner city Saskatchewan, or in ru­ral Saskatchewan, or in Mozam­bique in South East Africa. There are chap­ters ded­i­cated to spe­cific de­ter­mi­nants - eco­nomics, ed­u­ca­tion, phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, jus­tice and health care.” Dur­ing the ques­tion pe­riod, En­gler spoke of his spe­cial at­tach­ment to Moose Jaw. “The city is a main char­ac­ter in the book. There was so much about this place in the 1960s that is es­sen­tial to the story. There were lots of ri­val­ries. There was the north-side, the east-side and the South Hill kids. There were di­vi­sions be­tween the work­ers at large plants and the man­agers and own­ers of city cor­po­ra­tions. There was a lot of an­i­mos­ity be­tween the Protes­tants and Catholics. I could not have writ­ten the story with­out Moose Jaw as the venue. In 1962, we were al­ways find­ing rea­sons to fight, and ten­sions per­co­lated to the top with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of govern­ment run health care.” Meili de­scribed his frus­tra­tion as a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner when so­cial fac­tors limit his abil­ity to ben­e­fit a pa­tient. “Ev­ery govern­ment minster is a Min­is­ter of Health.” Mark Wart­man, a former provin­cial Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Food and Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion re­sponded: “At the time I was in govern­ment, there were dis­crep­an­cies in food costs re­lated to lo­ca­tion. You could buy al­co­hol for the same price any­where in Saskatchewan but when it came to nu­tri­tious foods, the costs var­ied. In the north where food was more ex­pen­sive, you had to pay $10 for a car­ton of milk.” Wart­man spoke of his ef­fort to make changes. “The only way to equal­ize ac­ces­si­bil­ity was to pro­vide sub­si­dies for the trans­porta­tion of qual­ity foods, and it was a great frus­tra­tion when we could not do this.”

Meili said the sit­u­a­tion has not changed. “There are still ge­o­graph­i­cal in­equal­i­ties in the sys­tem and this is one of the de­ter­mi­nants for health. Di­a­betes is of epi­demic pro­por­tions be­cause of poor nu­tri­tion, and this is a re­sult of the cost and un­avail­abil­ity of nu­tri­tious foods.” Nel­son Reid com­mented on the success of the dou­ble book-launch. He said, “The event was won­der­fully well at­tended, and in­ter­ac­tion was in­tense with both of our au­thors. As the spon­sor I am de­lighted with the sup­port we re­ceived and how things turned out.”

(left to right) Book Launch Par­tic­i­pants Nel­son Reid, Martha Tracey, Ryan Meili, Gary El­ger, Don Mitchell, Mark Wart­man

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