Presented by the Laurier Institution and UBC Continuing Studies in partnership with UBC First Nations House of Learning and the Vancouver Writers Fest.
Aboriginal peoples of Canada have been making a remarkable comeback from a terrifyingly low point of population, legal respect, and stability. This is a comeback to a position of power, influence, and creativity in Canadian civilization.
In his latest book, The Comeback, and in this lecture John Ralston Saul argues that historic moments are always uncomfortable. The events that began late in 2012 with the Idle No More movement were not just a rough patch in Aboriginal relations with the rest of Canada. What is happening today in Aboriginal-white relations is not about guilt, sympathy, or failure, or romanticizing a view of the past. It is about citizens’ rights. It is about rebuilding relationships that were central to the creation of Canada and, equally important, central to its continued existence. Canadians are faced with the potential for those relationships to open up a more creative and accurate way of imagining ourselves, a different narrative for Canada in which we all share obligations as a society.
Wide in scope but piercing in detail, The Comeback presents a powerful portrait of modern Aboriginal life in Canada in contrast to the perceived failings, often portrayed in media, that Canadians have become accustomed to. Once again, Saul presents an unfamiliar story of Canada’s past so that we may better understand its present—and imagine a better future.
John Ralston Saul is Canada’s leading public intellectual. Declared a “prophet” by Timemagazine and included in the prestigious Utne Reader list of the world’s 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. Saul has received many awards and prizes, including Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal. He is International President of PEN International, the leading global organization of writers dedicated to freedom of expression and literature. He has published fourteen works, which have been translated into twenty-five languages in thirty-six countries, the most recent of which are A Fair Country, Dark Diversions and now The Comeback.