To­wards a Prairie Atone­ment

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - BOOKS -

By Trevor Her­riot Univer­sity of Regina Press, 110 pages, $22.95

This short, im­pas­sioned book is in a way a case study pick­ing up where A World We Have Lost leaves off. “Only 3.5 per cent of the na­tive grass­land in Canada’s Prairie Eco­zone has any form of pro­tec­tion,” Trevor Her­riot writes. “The lit­tle that re­mains, our frag­ments of old-growth prairie, are ev­ery bit as di­verse and ir­re­place­able as Canada’s last refuges of old-growth for­est.” In

To­wards a Prairie Atone­ment, Her­riot asks how in­her­i­tors of set­t­lerism can atone to the land, and looks to the Métis ethic of “the hay priv­i­lege” as an ex­am­ple of the Com­mon­wealth. In the process, he re­counts a his­tory of dis­pos­ses­sion, from the Bat­tle of Seven Oaks to the Red River Re­bel­lion to the present. “We were good care­tak­ers of the land,” Nor­man Fleury writes in his af­ter­word. “We still are.” Her­riot makes a strong case about a his­tor­i­cal in­jus­tice – so­cial and eco­log­i­cal – that has car­ried through to to­day, but I wanted to hear more about in­dige­nous par­tic­i­pa­tion in this con­tem­po­rary.

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