Great Plains talk to focus on Indigenous reconciliation lessons from Canada

· 3 min read

Great Plains talk to focus on Indigenous reconciliation lessons from Canada

Black-and-white photos of Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) on color campus background
Andrew Stobo Sniderman (left) and Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii)

Legal experts Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) will speak about racism and reconciliation on Canada’s Great Plains at 4 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Center for Great Plains Studies, 1155 Q St. The event is free and open to the public.

The co-authors of “Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town and the Road to Reconciliation” will discuss how two neighboring communities on either side of the Birdtail River in Manitoba became separate and unequal over the 150 years of their history. This story of an Indigenous reserve and a nearby settler town reflects much of what has gone wrong in relations between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians. It also offers, in the end, a measure of hope for future reconciliation, both in Canada and the United States. The authors will participate in a question-and-answer-style discussion on Nov. 17.

Sniderman is a writer, lawyer and Rhodes Scholar from Montreal who has written for The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and Maclean’s. He has also argued before the Supreme Court of Canada, served as the human rights policy adviser to the Canadian minister of foreign affairs and worked for a judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court.

Sanderson is the Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and has served as a senior policy adviser to Ontario’s attorney general and minister of Indigenous affairs. He is Swampy Cree, Beaver clan, of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

“Valley of the Birdtail” (Harper Collins, 2022) is the winner of the 2023 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize. The prize celebrates the most outstanding work about the Great Plains during the past year, chosen by an independent group of scholars. At the event, both authors will receive a prize medallion and the $10,000 award. The award is supported annually by former center Director Jim Stubbendieck and his wife, Cheryl.

“While the events conveyed are broadly relevant and resonate across the Great Plains, Sniderman and Sanderson focus their telling on two families, one from each side of the Birdtail River, a specificity that makes the history feel uniquely vital and urgent. Indeed, the families’ stories … culminate in a hopeful instance of reconciliation — hope the authors build upon by outlining bold, achievable steps toward broader reconciliation between settler and Indigenous communities,” said Todd Richardson, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and book prize chair.

During the lecture, guests can enter a raffle to win one of five copies of the book. The book will also be available for purchase.

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