October 27, 2008

Book about Aboriginal hockey players

Book sheds light on First Nations playersWinnipeg's Don Marks isn't out to change the world.

"I'd be happy if I could change just a small corner of the world," says Marks, in Toronto yesterday to promote his book They Call Me Chief. It is billed as a story about aboriginal hockey players in the NHL. But Marks unfolds scenes of Canadiana that are as much about the human condition as they are about our national addiction to hockey.

His tales of Bryan Trottier and Theoren Fleury and George Armstrong are humorous and at the same time unsettling. He unveils a Canadian society that sees itself as being all-inclusive and at the same time one that fails to live up to those beliefs. And, he does it all without getting preachy. "As Canadians we love hockey and I'm telling these interesting stories but they lead to issues that we should be solving ... racism, poverty, treaty rights, self-government. The hook is the hockey but it's about so much more."

His hope, says Marks, is that people develop understanding and empathy for the First Nations. "Nobody is looking for charity. But we don't want some 68-year-old woman, hiking up her dress and hauling through six feet of snow in minus-40 degree winter to go have a whiz because that's what it's like in some places ... there's no running water. That shouldn't exist in a country as wealthy as Canada."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.

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