Compelled to Act

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Histories of Women’s Activism in Western Canada

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Edited by Sarah Carter and Nanci Langford.

Compelled to Act showcases fresh historical perspectives on the diversity of women’s contributions to social and political change in prairie Canada in the twentieth century, including but looking beyond the era of suffrage activism. In our current time of revitalized activism against racism, colonialism, violence, and misogyny, this volume reminds us of the myriad ways women have challenged and confronted injustices and inequalities.

The women and their activities shared in Compelled to Act are diverse in time, place, and purpose, but there are some common threads. In their attempts to correct wrongs, achieve just solutions, and create change, women experienced multiple sites of resistance, both formal and informal. The acts of speaking out, of organizing, of picketing and protesting were characterized as unnatural for women, as violations of gender and societal norms, and as dangerous to the state and to family stability.

Still as these accounts demonstrate, prairie women felt compelled to respond to women’s needs, to challenges to family security, both health and economic, and to the need for community. They reacted with the resources at hand, and beyond, to support effective action, joining the ranks of women all over the world seeking political and social agency to create a society more responsive to the needs of women and their children.

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Publisher: University of Manitoba Press
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Canada’s Labour Market Training System

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by Bob Barnetson

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How does the current labour market training system function and whose interests does it serve? In this introductory textbook, Bob Barnetson wades into the debate between workers and employers, and governments and economists to investigate the ways in which labour power is produced and reproduced in Canadian society. After sifting through the facts and interpretations of social scientists and government policymakers, Barnetson interrogates the training system through analysis of the political and economic forces that constitute modern Canada. This book not only provides students of Canada’s division of labour with a general introduction to the main facets of labour-market training—including skills development, post-secondary and community education, and workplace training—but also encourages students to think critically about the relationship between training systems and the ideologies that support them.

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Publisher: Athabasca University Press
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About the Author

Bob Barnetson is a Professor of Labour Relations in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies.


Unmooring the Komagata Maru

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Charting Colonial Trajectories

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Edited by Rita Dhamoon, Davina Bhandar, Renisa Mawani, and Satwinder Kaur Bains.

In 1914, the SS Komagata Maru crossed oceans and jurisdictions – Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, Japan, and West Bengal – to arrive on the west coast of Canada. Citing regulations designed to limit the immigration of Indians, Canadian officials refused the ship and its passengers entry and detained them for two months in Vancouver Harbour. Most of the 376 passengers were then forcibly returned to India.

Unmooring the Komagata Maru challenges conventional Canadian historical accounts of the incident by drawing from multiple disciplines and fields to consider the international and colonial dimensions within the context of political resistance, migration, cultural memory, and nation-building. Drawing from various disciplines, the collection situates the history of South Asians in Canada within a larger global-imperial history, emphasizing the ways in which the Komagata Maru incident is related to issues of colonialism.

The contributors offer not only nuanced interpretations of the ship’s journey but also a critical reading of Canadian multiculturalism through past events and their commemoration. Ultimately, they caution against narratives that present the ship’s journey as a dark moment in the history of an otherwise redeemed nation. Unmooring the Komagata Maru demonstrates that, more than a hundred years later, the voyage of the Komagata Maru has yet to reach its conclusion.

Scholars and students of postcolonial studies, transnational studies, Canadian studies, South Asian studies, Canadian history, politics, sociology, and critical ethnic studies will find much to interest them in this book. It will also find an audience within the South Asian diaspora.

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Publisher: UBC Press
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Country Roads

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Memoirs from Rural Canada

Book Cover: Country Roads

Edited by Pam Chamberlain

Rural people, places, and communities vary greatly in a country as geographically vast and culturally diverse as Canada. For some, the country was a place of happiness and belonging; for others, it was a source of hardship and sorrow. For many, it was both. Some writers grew up loving their rural homes, never wanting to leave. Others couldn’t wait to escape to the city.

From Victoria, British Columbia, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, three generations of Canadians tell their stories of growing up in rural communities in Country Roads. The writers–including journalist Pamela Wallin, NHL coach Brent Sutter, and award-winning authors Sharon Butala and Rudy Wiebe–share one thing in common: they were all country kids whose upbringing profoundly impacted their identities. The thirty-two memoirs in Country Roads are sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, but always engaging.

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Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
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How Canadians Communicate III

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Contexts of Canadian Popular Culture

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Edited by Bart Beaty, Derek Briton, Gloria Filax, and Rebecca Sullivan

What does Canadian popular culture say about the construction and negotiation of Canadian national identity? This third volume of How Canadians Communicate describes the negotiation of popular culture across terrains where national identity is built by producers and audiences, government and industry, history and geography, ethnicities and citizenships.

Canada does indeed have a popular culture distinct from other nations. How Canadians Communicate III gathers the country’s most inquisitive experts on Canadian popular culture to prove its thesis.

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Publisher: UBC Press
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Japanese Canadian Journey

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The Nakagama Story

by Rochelle Yamagishi

Japanese grocer carrying a bag of rice

The general history of Japanese Canadian immigration in the early 1900s, and subsequent forced removal of Japanese Canadians from the west coast of Canada to southern Alberta during World War II to work on sugar beet farms, is interwoven with the personalized story of a particular entrepreneur, Ryutaro Nakagama, who established the first Albertan Japanese food store in Lethbridge, Alberta. Young and single at the time, the author’s father, Ryutaro, viewed his move to Canada as a new adventure, a chance to break away from existing conditions in his homeland. On April 16, 1924, eighteen-year-old Ryutaro arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, on the S.S. McKinley. His older sister, Miye, and her husband, Chosaburo Nakagama, had emigrated earlier, and sponsored Ryutaro to work in Steveston, British Columbia. Chosaburo had his own fishing boat and fishing license under which the two men could fish, so Ryutaro worked with his brother-in-law in the fishing industry for three years, from 1924 to 1927. Typically, Japanese immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century came to Canada only temporarily, but he seemed intent on staying in Canada to make his future. The decision was confirmed when he became a naturalized Canadian citizen on October 2, 1926.

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Publisher: Trafford Publishing
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About the Author

Rochelle Yamagishi is a tutor with Athabasca University.


The Wages of Relief

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Cities and the Unemployed in Prairie Canada, 1929–39

by Eric Strikwerda

scaffolding in a building site

In the early part of the Dirty Thirties, the Canadian prairie city was a relatively safe haven. Having faced recession before the Great War and then again in the early 1920s, municipalities already had relief apparatuses in place to deal with poverty and unemployment. Until 1933, responsibility for the care of the urban poor remained with local governments, but when the farms failed that year, and the Depression deepened, western Canadian cities suffered tremendously. Recognizing the severity of the crisis, the national government intervened. Evolving federal programs and policies took over responsibility for the delivery of relief to the single unemployed, while the government simultaneously withdrew financing for all public works projects.

Setting municipal relief administrations of the 1930s within a wider literature on welfare and urban poor relief, Strikwerda highlights the legacy on which relief policymakers relied in determining policy directions, as well as the experiences of the individuals and families who depended on relief for their survival. Focusing on three prairie cities—Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg—Strikwerda argues that municipal officials used their power to set policy to address what they perceived to be the most serious threats to the social order stemming from the economic crisis. By analyzing the differing ways in which local relief programs treated married and single men, he also explores important gendered dynamics at work in the response of city administrators to the social and economic upheaval of the Depression. Probing the mindset of local elites struggling in extraordinary circumstances, The Wages of Relief describes the enduring impact of the policy changes made in the 1930s in the direction of a broad, national approach to unemployment—an approach that ushered in Canada’s modern welfare system.

About the Author

Eric Strikwerda is an Associate Professor in History in the Centre for Humanities. View Eric's faculty page.


Selves and Subjectivities

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Reflections on Canadian Arts and Culture

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Edited by Manijeh Mannani and Veronica Thompson.

Long a topic of intricate political and social debate, Canadian identity has come to be understood as fragmented, amorphous, and unstable, a multifaceted and contested space only tenuously linked to traditional concepts of the nation. As Canadians, we are endlessly defining ourselves, seeking to locate our sense of self in relation to some Other. By examining how writers and performers have conceptualized and negotiated issues of personal identity in their work, the essays collected in Selves and Subjectivities investigate emerging representations of self and other in contemporary Canadian arts and culture. Included are essays on iconic poet and musician Leonard Cohen, Governor General award–winning playwright Colleen Wagner, feminist poet and novelist Daphne Marlatt, film director David Cronenberg, poet and writer Hédi Bouraoui, author and media scholar Marusya Bociurkiw, puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, and the Aboriginal rap group War Party.

As critic Diana Brydon has argued, contemporary Canadian writers are "not transcending nation but resituating it." Drawing together themes of gender and sexuality, trauma and displacement, performati­vity, and linguistic diversity, Selves and Subjectivities offers an exciting new contribution to the multivocal dialogue surrounding the Canadian sense of identity.

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Publisher: Athabasca University Press
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Escape from the Staple Trap

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Canadian Political Economy after Left Nationalism

by Paul Kellogg

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From fur and fish to oil and minerals, Canadian development has often been understood through its relationship to export staples. This understanding, argues Paul Kellogg, has led many political economists to assume that Canadian economic development has followed a path similar to those of staple-exporting economies in the Global South, ignoring a more fundamental fact: as an advanced capitalist economy, Canada sits in the core of the world system, not on the periphery or semi-periphery.

In Escape from the Staple Trap, Kellogg challenges statistical and historical analyses that present Canada as weak and disempowered, lacking sovereignty and economic independence. A powerful critique of the dominant trend in Canadian political economy since the 1970s, Escape from the Staple Trap offers an important new framework for understanding the distinctive features of Canadian political economy.

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Publisher: University of Toronto Press
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About the Author

Paul Kellogg is Associate Professor in the MA-IS program, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies. View Paul's faculty web page.


Timing Canada

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The Shifting Politics of Time in Canadian Literary Culture

by Paul Huebener

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From punch clocks to prison sentences, from immigration waiting periods to controversial time-zone boundaries, from Indigenous grave markers that count time in centuries rather than years, to the fact that free time is shrinking faster for women than for men - time shapes the fabric of Canadian society every day, but in ways that are not always visible or logical.

In Timing Canada, Paul Huebener draws from cultural history, time-use surveys, political statements, literature, and visual art to craft a detailed understanding of how time operates as a form of power in Canada. Time enables everything we do - as Margaret Atwood writes, "without it we can't live." However, time also disempowers us, divides us, and escapes our control. Huebener transforms our understanding of temporal power and possibility by using examples from Canadian and Indigenous authors - including Jeannette Armstrong, Joseph Boyden, Dionne Brand, Timothy Findley, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Gabrielle Roy, and many others - who witness, question, dismantle, and reconstruct the functioning of time in their works.

As the first comprehensive study of the cultural politics of time in Canada, Timing Canada develops foundational principles of critical time studies and everyday temporal literacy, and demonstrates how time functions broadly as a tool of power, privilege, and imagination within a multicultural and multi-temporal nation.

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Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
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About the Author

Paul Huebener is an Associate Professor of English in the Centre for Humanities. View Paul's faculty web page.