Thursday, January 22, 2015

This month Canada's History

James Cook by artist Robin Brook
... has Barry Gough on James Cook's Canadian explorations on the cover.  Medical historian Christopher Rutty explores the history of smallpox in Canada.  Jim Burant, late primo of the Ottawa archives picture division, introduces the almost inappropriately beautiful First World War sketches and watercolours by soldier-artist Bill Stark.

To my mind the startling article this month is "The Serpent Slayer," Vancouver history teacher Janet Nicol's appreciation of Xwechtaal, or Andrew Paull (1892-1959), the under-appreciated west coast aboriginal rights activist and legal advocate. I had not known that in 1911 Paull, who grew up on the Squamish reserve in North Vancouver, completed the articling requirements for legal practice, but was never called to the bar because he was not on the voters list -- and refused to be, because registered Indians had to surrender their aboriginal status in order to be voters.

Paull was never allowed to call himself a lawyer or avail himself of lawyers' privileges, but effectively practised aboriginal rights law all his life.  Sounds like there is a good case here for an apology and a posthumous call to the bar by the Law Society of British Columbia, which long had a remarkable array of tools with which to deny recognition to ethnic minorities and political radicals. Despite such obstacles, in the 1920s Paull, a founder of the North American Indian Brotherhood, a precursor to the Assembly of First Nations, was pursuing the kinds of legal arguments that Canadian courts only began to take seriously a couple of decades ago.

My own column, "Rhymes with ISIS," considers what the Chanak crisis of 1922 suggests about the depressing history of Canada's part in Western invasions of the Middle East.

If you subscribed, you would already have received your copy.

Follow @CmedMoore