Actions & Words: Three years since the TRC

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If you are in Edmonton this Thursday evening, pop by City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. for Actions and Words, a free event sponsored by Athabasca University Press, Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton (RISE)  and the City of Edmonton.

RISE Book Club

On its Facebook page, RISE describes itself as “a group of citizens in the Edmonton region committed to supporting reconciliation in words & actions.” The group will be doing just that at Thursday’s event, while simultaneously commemorating the third anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s arrival in the city and officially launching the RISE Book Club. AU Press has partnered with RISE to create the new book club, an online site for reading and discussing works on reconciliation

Bear-Chief_snippetActions and Words will feature a speaking panel, headlined by Arthur Bear Chief, author of My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell, (AU Press, 2017). Bear Chief’s memoir depicts his harrowing experience of the Old Sun Residential School on the Siksika Nation between 1949 and 1959. The frank, no-holds-barred story (one of those featured in the RISE Book Club) describes his decade-long experience of sexual abuse and its lasting impact.

Since the release of his memoir in January, Bear Chief has been garnering considerable media attention. In a recent interview with CBC Books, the author explained what compelled him to share his story:

Arthur Bear Chief as a young boy, courtesy AU press, 2017

Arthur Bear Chief as a young boy, courtesy AU press, 2017

“My main reason for writing this book was that I wanted people to hear about residential schools from an individual who actually went to one. I was talking for those I went to residential school with who did not survive; those who met their early demise in some way, mostly alcohol.”

Bear Chief and AU Press

Megan Hall, acting director of AU Press, lauds Bear Chief’s candid story.

“Arthur tells the story of his whole life: the time before, during, and after residential school,” said Hall.

“I think what is particularly compelling about Arthur’s book is how frank he is when he describes the impact that residential school had on his adult life — how it changed the whole trajectory of his life.”

By way of Thursday’s event, Hall explained AU Press wanted to contribute meaningfully to the TRC. “We wanted to do our part to respond to the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” she said. “First of all, I believe that it’s AU Press’ job as a publisher to make sure that Arthur’s story is read, heard, and understood. But we also have a role to play in ensuring that there is a multiplicity of voices and perspectives on what the work of reconciliation will look like.”

Other panelists joining Bear Chief at Thursday evening’s event will include Charlene Bearhead, education lead at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Steven Cooper, lawyer, and Pamela Holway, senior acquisitions editor, AU Press.

Visit www.risebookclub.ca to get reading, to join in discussions using the club’s online commenting tool and to receive event and meeting updates.

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