I am excited to announce that my two books of Canadian history through the stories of activists, Resisting the State and Gender and Sexuality were released by Fernwood Publishing in September. With the first few offline launch events finally confirmed, today I am celebrating a sort of virtual launch event for the books. I am reaching out to people online whom I think might be interested and asking them to help spread the word about the books’ release. In this post, I describe the books, link to useful information on the project’s website, provide details about offline launch events, and suggest a number of possible ways that you might choose to show your support.
We usually learn our history from the perspective of our rulers — from the top down. In these books we learn about our history from the perspectives of ordinary people — from the bottom up. Whatever liberty and justice that communities, workplaces and individuals in Canada enjoy are due to the many struggles and social movements in our country’s history. Most of the time, the stories and histories of those movements to overcome racism, sexism, and poverty, for example, remain largely untold, thanks to the single, simplistic national story taught to us in school. In these books, I have combined challenging ideas and historical context with accounts from movement participants themselves, and the result not only brings rich, untold stories of movements to life, but paints a much more critical picture of the country in which we live than the one most of us learned in school. More than that, I hope that the histories in these books serve to both inspire and inform us as we engage in the ongoing struggles that will shape our shared tomorrow.
Gender and Sexuality unearths a diverse spectrum of struggle through the accounts of longstanding social movement participants. From indigenous women working against colonization and Christian women trying to end sexism and homophobia in their churches, to gay men opposing sexual oppression and women fighting against hostile employers and against violence, this book reveals the ways that oppressions based on gender and sexuality — and the struggles against them — have shaped our society.
Resisting the State details the histories of a broad range of social movements and provides readers with a richer understanding of the Canadian state and why so many people — including military draftees, welfare recipients, workers, indigenous people, psychiatric survivors, immigrants and refugees — have struggled, and continue to struggle, for equality and justice for all members of society.
To learn more about what people are saying about these books, you can go here.
POSSIBLE WAYS TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT
1) Buy the books!
You can do this by ordering through your local, independent bookseller or by ordering from the publisher — use this link for Gender and Sexuality: Canadian History Through the Stories of Activists and this link for Resisting the State: Canadian History Through the Stories of Activists.
If you attend a launch event or know me personally, you can buy a copy in person.
While those methods are preferable, it is also possible to order from major retailers online — currently not Amazon, for some reason, but Chapters/Indigo.
2) Attend (or circulate word about) a launch event!
There will be an event in Windsor, Ontario, on November 14 — the venue is not yet confirmed, so please email me for details if you’re interested.
There will also be launch events in the new year in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, and perhaps Montreal; details are still being arranged, so please email me if you are interested in joining us for one of these events and I’ll make sure you’re notified when the events are confirmed.
3) Share word of the project or specific sample material via social media!
The project website can be found here. It contains detailed information about the project, the books, and the interview participants, as well as sample written and audio material from the interviews. Here are a few examples of the audio excerpts connected to the material published in the books:
The late Madeleine Parent, a long-time feminist and labour activist, talking about organizing women in Montreal’s textile mills in the 1940s here.
Toronto-based anti-war and social justice activists Isabel and Frank Showler reflecting on their decisions to take a pacifist position during the Second World War here.
Cree elder Doreen Spence talking about her memories of working as a nurse in a hospital in northern Alberta in the ’50s and standing up to the hospital administration against the involuntary sterilization of a young indigenous girl here.
Labour, anti-racist, and community activist Lynn Jones speaking about struggles against racism and racial segregation in Nova Scotia in the ’50s and ’60s here.
Feminist activist Lee Lakeman talking about organizing a women’s movement conference in Ontario in the early ’70s here.
Feminist and community activist Shree Mulay talking about the founding of the South Asian Women’s Community Centre in Montreal in the early ’80s here.
The late Charles Roach, a long-time radical lawyer and community organizer in Toronto who passed away earlier this month, talking about his advice for youth who are becoming involved in struggles for social change here.
There’s lots more on the site, so please stop by, check it out, and share your favourite pieces.
4) Review the books!
An important part of spreading word about new books is people talking about them in print. That means formal locations for reviews, such as relevant magazines and journals. But it also means less formal locations, such as your own blog, social media (from Facebook to Twitter to Goodreads), and the websites of online retailers. If you read these books and have an opinion about them, please consider writing about your opinion in one or many of those locations!
5) Assign one of the books on a course!
These books are well-suited for use in post-secondary courses related to Canadian social movements and their history, whether those are taught under the banner of labour studies, women’s studies, history, social work, or any of the other institutional locations in which such courses sometimes find a home. If you teach relevant courses, you can go to the links to the publisher’s site under (1) above and find out how to obtain examination copies. If you know people who teach relevant courses, please let them know about these books and encourage them to make use of them in their teaching.
6) Recommend these books to your library!
Most libraries have a procedure for members to recommend new purchases. Find out how it works in your school or community library, and ask them to add these books to their shelves.
7) Forward this post to a group of friends who might be interested!
Thank-you so much for your support!