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MF GALAXY

MF GALAXY is a weekly podcast powered by four mighty engines: * Writers on writing: the craft and the business * Pop culture including TV, movies, graphic novels, and more * Progressive politics, activism, and social enterprise * Africentric change-makers, histories, cultures, art, and more! Mixing brand-new interviews with classic conversations (from my archive of 23 years in broadcasting) with famous and dynamic figures in the arts, Hollywood, and politics, MF GALAXY will take you to places you've never been before, and deliver fresh insights on the places you've been.
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Now displaying: 2018
Nov 20, 2018

I first met Tate Young back around 2004 when we were both giving readings at a local indie book store. We both had pseudonyms, we both had shaved heads, and we both produced often shocking writing, so we hit it off immediately.

Three years after that he was helming a literary game show called The 3-Day Novel Contest for which he invited me to be one the “celebrity” judges. The show was amazing. We even did a second season before he went to become a movie director and editor best known for the indie science fiction and fantasy features Haphead, Ghosts with Shit Jobs, and the recent short film Timebox, which he also wrote. And he did all this without going to film school.

I wanted to ask Young to explain how to make great indie films while treating cast and crew with respect, so he spoke with me by web video from his home in Toronto on October 31, 2018. We discussed:

  • Being self-taught and going DIY while working your way up the film-creation ranks
  • How he entered television directing for a national network with only minimal formal training
  • Why, despite thousands of hours of free online video tutorials on filmmaking, he still buys and pores over books on screencraft
  • How to keep working in movies while you’re waiting to direct
  • Why a good union culture and attitude should make a film set a good place to work
  • The most important artistic aspect of creating a beautiful shot that plenty of indie filmmakers don’t understand
  • Why no filmmaker should ever say, “We’ll fix it in post,” and
  • What, more than sexual harassment, is the biggest ongoing complaint about working in movies in Canada
  • The conversation will appear to begin abruptly; Young and I had just been talking about the importance of books.

 

TateYoung.com

The 3-Day Novel Contest TV Series

Fight Choreography The Art of Non-Verbal Dialogue

Gareth Edwards: Film Keynote at SXSW 2017

Bruno Delbonnel’s Cinematography on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Nov 12, 2018

Lyda Morehouse is pretty terrific. We first met at NorWesCon in Seattle when we were both finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award. She was totally down-to-earth, fun, funny, and welcoming. She was also an extremely accomplished author who by now has written at least twelve books, including the cyberpunk Archangel Protocol series, and under her pen-name Tate Hallaway, the Vampire Princess of St. Paul series.

Like most authors, Morehouse has had career lows and not just highs. But unlike most authors, she’s always been open about those difficult journeys through the valley of print. That’s the kind of generosity with vulnerability that makes it possible for other people to learn, and it makes me respect her all the more.

Lyda Morehouse spoke with me by web video on October 23, 2018. We discussed: 

  • Why a career crisis-point forced her to take a new name
  • Whether a Philip K. Dick Award nomination or win is a career-killer
  • Why she once filled a coffin with her own books
  • How to rise to the challenge of writing whatever genre you’d always claimed would be easy
  • Why to be a “hybrid writer”—that is, publishing through corporations and independently at the same time, and
  • What you need to understand about your plot and your readers to get the most out of your endings

 

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Oct 29, 2018

So you want to write mystery fiction, crime fiction, or detective fiction, but your characters don’t crackle, your plots don’t pop, and your mysteries don’t sizzle. What should you do? How’re you going make readers keep turning those pages?

You need to listen to mystery writer S.G. Wong.

Oh, there are other writers, right here in E-Town, who are admirable. We’ve got them in every form and genre, and they do amazing work. But there’s only a handful of people I know who are a combo of outstanding craft, outstanding teaching, and outstanding organising for the writing community. And standing tall inside that select group is S.G. Wong, the creator of the Lola Starke mystery novels featuring a hard-boiled but beautiful detective, a carefully-constructed alternate Earth in which the Chinese colonised what we know as Los Angeles to build Crescent City, and a crackling mixture of magic and ghosts.

Such imagination has gotten SG Wong shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Awards in the Best First Novel and Best Short Story categories. Maybe speaking four languages is an asset to thinking widely and wildly. Wong is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Sisters in Crime (National), and Past President of the Sisters in Crime—Canada West chapter. She’s organised numerous writer events, and taught and spoken more places than I can mention.

Recently SG Wong taught a Canadian Authors Association (Alberta Branch) workshop on crime fiction; she taught plotting, while EC Bell taught researching, and Jane Bernard taught creating voice. Wong and I spoke by web video on October 22, 2018, and we discussed: 

  • How to make better plots by building better characters
  • Why your characters must make choices that you as the writer totally disagree with
  • The one question that can totally fix contrived characterisation
  • How to make your story-world a place where readers want to visit and stay, and
  • Why she loathes the phrase “strong female protagonist”

SG Wong.com

Lola Starke series of novels and of the Crescent City short stories

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Oct 22, 2018

If memory serves, I’ve known Craig DiLouie since 2008, and he immediately struck me as an artist with a gravitic commitment to the craft, business, and community of writers. I saw him giving a book trailer-making workshop at the World Fantasy Convention, held that year in Calgary, and right after that I checked his amazing videos, and later devoured his gripping, terrifying zombie novel The Infection.

DiLouie is the author of a whopping eighteen novels including One of Us, the Crash Dive series, Suffer the Children, and The Great Planet Robbery. His books cross numerous genres including horror, apocalypse, zombie, science fiction, fantasy, historical, and military fiction; his work has been translated into multiple languages and been nominated for major awards including the Bram Stoker and the Audie. Because he’s such a heavy-hitter, I always enjoying learn from him about artistic and career development.

So on October 18, 2018, DiLouie spoke with me by web video from his home in Calgary. We discussed: 

  • The connection between horror and comedy
  • What Stephen King teaches about what it takes to be a great writer
  • Why, despite his early literary success, DiLouie experienced major pressure to perform following the publication of his novel Suffer the Children
  • Why authors should attend conventions
  • How and why to writes series
  • What software you should be using to maximise your sales
  • The one thing he wishes the fans of his books in separate genres would do, and the most important thing an author must do to sell more books

 

craigdilouie.com

KD Spy vs KDP Rocket vs Kindle Samurai

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Oct 16, 2018

John Jennings is an amazing cat. He’s a designer, illustrator, writer, and lecturer at Eye Trauma Comix. He’s the artist and co-adapter, with Damian Duffy, of the celebrated hit Kindred based on the novel by Octavia Butler. His other works include I Am Alfonso Jones, Black Kirby: In Search of the Motherboxx Connection, Blue Hand Mojo, The Blacker the Ink, and Artists Against Police Brutality. With Damian Duffy, he’s the co-editor of the celebrated showcases Black Comix and Black Comix Returns.

Jennings is also a professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside, the same institution where Afritopian trailblazer Nalo Hopkinson teaches in the department of Creative Writing.

And now, because of Jennings’ mega-success with Kindred, he’s starting a whole new career as the founding freelance editor for the Abrams graphic novel imprint Megascope. Megascope will feature works by creators of African, Indigenous, Latin American, Asian, and Oceanic backgrounds, with a special on focus on Africentric stories.

John Jennings spoke with me by web video on October 9, 2018. We discussed:

  • The enormous critical, commercial, and academic success of his adaptation of Kindred
  • The shocking reaction of Octavia Butler’s estate to the graphic novel
  • How the book won success despite national under-distribution by Diamond
  • Why Marvel and DC aren’t mainstream, and who is Who today’s underserved comics market is
  • The fascinating Africentric story behind the name “Megascope,” and
  • How, when, and why Abrams have him the chance to found Megascope, and what he plans to do with it

 

John Jennings interview – New York State University at Buffalo

John Jennings: Why Comic Art is “Brazen”

 

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Oct 10, 2018

Alternative Radio is a concept, sure, but it’s also the name of a long-running talk-radio show that in Edmonton airs on CJSR FM88 and also runs around the world. It’s a weekly hour of speeches by and interviews with progressive organisers, thinkers, artists, and history-makers that corporate media almost entirely ignores. In these dangerous times, few hours on radio or the web will inform you as effectively as Alternative Radio about who’s making the world worse—and how they’re doing it.

Alternative Radio show has been running for more than 32 years, and the man behind it is David Barsamian. He altered the independent media landscape with his radio show and with his books featuring his interviews with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, and Edward Said.

I spoke by telephone with David Barsmanian on February 25, 2012, just ahead of a speech he was to deliver at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre. As you’re listening to Barsamian list a vast number of US atrocities and the hundreds of military bases around the world that are the muscle of its violent global rule, remember that he’s speaking with me in 2012 while Barack Obama was US president. That’s my way of encouraging you to remember that no matter how evil and deranged Team Trump is, they are not the exception to US power, and that while US Democrats and Republicans rule differently at home on key issues, when it comes to global violence, their victims would have a difficult time telling them apart.

A few months before we spoke, the government of India deported Barsamian for his reporting on Kashmir and other revolts. In our conversation he discusses the sorry state of corporate journalism, the global economic crisis, and rebellions against it.

 

ALTERNATIVE RADIO

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Oct 3, 2018

I’m a lifelong Albertan, and let me tell you, things are always crazy in my home province. We’ve usually had political dynasties that lasted decades each. The last one was the rule of the Progressive Conservatives, and it lasted more than 40 years.

In 2015 we finally elected the New Democratic Party, the somewhat social-democratic, increasingly centrist party that has delivered on plenty of its social-democratic promises but enraged its environmentalist base and many but not all First Nations supporters by pushing for new pipelines and getting into protracted verbal battles with the NDP government in British Columbia and promising to exit the federal government’s climate change plan.

And while all that’s happening, the two major right-wing parties in the province have transmogrified into a single, ultra-right-wing entity called the United Conservative Party or UCP, and to make things absolutely clear, many of its candidates are calling for the destruction of public medicare, and many members are connected with White nationalist media and White extremist movements.

To talk about Alberta politics on MF GALAXY, once a year I sit down with David Climenhaga, the “award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet, and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at the Toronto Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald. He holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians.” Climenhaga blogs at AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Climenhaga and I met to talk about:

  • UCP leader Jason Kenney’s cavorting in India, and the UCP’s not-so-secret agenda to privatise health care
  • The ultra-right-wing renegade Maxime Bernier who split from the federal Conservatives to form his own party
  • What policy the Alberta NDP should have pursued to bolster its hopes for reelection, or at least a permanent progressive legacy, and
  • The strategy that right-wing extremists have used to drag mainstream conservative parties closer and closer to fascism.

 

Albertapolitics.ca

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Sep 26, 2018

 

Keynote speech excerpts from The Good Fight 2018 Counter-Fascism Training Conference in Edmonton. Speeches by...

DARYLE LAMONT JENKINS

Daryle Lamont Jenkins, one of the founders of the antifascist organisation One People’s Project, is a former US Air Force man who's spent a lifetime fighting American neo-nazis, and was a pioneer of the early internet with innovative online tactics to fight Whitesupremacists. Today, in service of his cause he speaks across the United States. Liberal and conservative journalists try to smear him; Nazis try to fight him in the courts and lose.

Why do they fear him? Because he exposes the Nazis who are hiding in plain sight by investigating them and revealing their nazi identity to the world. But he also helps those people who want to leave the nazi movement. He fearlessly steps up to fascists such as Richard Spencer and Matthew Heimbach and simply mocks them, and even got Spencer thrown out of CPAC, the Conservative Political Affairs Conference which was teeming with Spencer's own fanatics.

BARBARA PERRY

Barbara Perry is Professor and Associate Dean of Social Science and Humanities at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. She has written extensively on hate crime, including several books on the topic, among them In the Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crime; and Hate and Bias Crime: A Reader.

She has also published in the area of Native American victimization and social control, including one book entitled The Silent Victims: Native American Victims of Hate Crime, based on interviews with Native Americans (University of Arizona Press). She has also written a related book on policing Native American communities ­ Policing Race and Place: Under- and Over-enforcement in Indian Country (Lexington Press). She was the General Editor of a five volume set on hate crime (Praeger), and editor of Volume 3: Victims of Hate Crime of that set. Dr. Perry continues to work in the area of hate crime, and has begun to make contributions to the limited scholarship on hate crime in Canada.

Most recently, she has contributed to a scholarly understanding of anti-Muslim violence, hate crime against LGBTQ communities, and the community impacts of hate crime.

DANIEL DAVID

Dan David is Mohawk, Bear Clan, based at Kanehsatake Mohawk Territory, near Oka, Quebec. 

After graduating high school, he was turned away from journalism school by Indian Affairs. He spent the next ten years as a construction labourer, a garbageman, and a printer at one of the first Indigenous community colleges in central Quebec, followed by a stint as a civil servant in Ottawa after the federal government closed the college. 

Dan jumped at the chance to leave Ottawa to attend the Program in Journalism for Native Peoples at Western, an intensive one-year diploma course. After graduating top of his class, CBC recruited him for a stint in Whitehorse. After returning south, the CBC picked him up again for the its "Visible Minorities Program" meant to bring diversity to its newsrooms across Canada. 

This led to him becoming one of a handful of CBC trainers invited by South African journalists to help them transform the South African Broadcasting Corporation from a state-controlled propagandist into an independent public broadcaster before their first-ever democratic elections in 1994. 

Dan went back and forth for the next 7 years, working as a producer at TVOntario and Vision-TV before accepting a job at Ryerson University as the first ever Chair of Diversity at any school of journalism in Canada. Back in South Africa, he became the first ever Mohawk to be head of TV training at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan's trained TV producers and reporters across Canada, Indonesia, and Azerbaijan.  

He's earned two National Magazine awards writing about his home community before, during and after the 1990 Oka Crisis.  

He's been working too long on a book about his home community, past, present and future. Soon, he plans to launch a literary journalism web site for Indigenous writers and journalists.

 

Join The Good Fight

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Sep 12, 2018

In Canada, the threat posed by fascist, Whitesupremacist, and similar extremist groups is real, and growing.

The proudly Islamophobic Soldiers of Odin are active right here in Edmonton, and even the right-wing Daily Mail newspaper in England describes as them a neo-nazi group. The Proud Boys are also on the march, and the Southern Poverty Law Centre in the United States names them as a hate group. And then there are the Three Percenters, the Ku Klux Klan, and many others like them, supported by extremist Canadian media and aligned with one major federal party.

Alarmed by the rise of fascism in our midst, especially after the election of US president Donald Trump and the Nazi march and terrorist murder in Charlottesville, a group of Edmontonians banded together to produce this weekend’s training conference THE GOOD FIGHT.

Unlike far too many rallies, marches, and speeches which lack a specific agenda and any clear and measurable goals, The Good Fight brings together top national and international trainers to instruct participants in proven, peak-performance, innovative, and nonviolent methods to counter fascism and build justice.

Trainers include journalist Daniel David, counter-fascist investigator Daryle Lamont Jenkins who’s been a guest on MF GALAXY before, and Canada's leading hate crimes researcher, Barbara Perry.

She’s a Professor and Associate Dean of Social Science and Humanities at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and is the author of In the Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crime; and Hate and Bias Crime: A Reader, among others.

I spoke by telephone with Barbara Perry on September 11, 2018, and we discussed:

  • The two most important reasons to keep opposing Whitesupremacist hate rallies
  • The danger that fascist groups pose to safety and democracy in Canada, and their disturbing connections to the Canadian military
  • The failure of Canadian media to take the fascist threat seriously, even after the lethal terrorist attack against the Quebec City mosque, and
  • Some of the most promising old and new and innovative strategies for helping stop the threat of fascism in Canada

If you’d like to attend The Good Fight this weekend in Edmonton, September 14 – 16, 2018, register here. It’s pay what you can, so if you want to go, go! And if you want to donate, hit the donate button!

 

Southern Poverty Law Centre names Proud Boys a “hate group

Right-wing UK newspaper the Daily Mail calls Soldiers of Odin “neo-Nazi-led-vigilantes”

 

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Aug 15, 2018

Today, the day I’m recording this, is August 14, 2018. Spike Lee’s movie Black Klansmen is new in theatres, released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the neo-Nazi march on Charlottesville in which one Nazi terrorist used his car to kill anti-fascist activist Heather Heyer.

The nazis who marched, the same people who accuse humans with compassion of being “snowflakes,” brought their hateful temper tantrum to Charlottesville because they opposed the removal of monuments in honour of those who used violence to defend the racist colonial dictatorship that presided over a continent-wide rape gulag.

Those nazis said they were simply honouring their culture, the culture of the American South. But if they truly wanted to honour southern heroes, they could easily have honoured Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, Maria W. Stewart, Charles Osborn, or any of the 106 anti-slavery societies in the US South. But these people don’t honour history. They honour racial supremacy and genocide. 

On August 12, 2018, just two days ago, US nazis marched on Washington to celebrate the anniversary of murdering Heather Heyer. The man who convened last year’s riot and this year’s event was Jason Kessler (whose own father denounced yelled at him to "Get out of my room!" during a livestream because the 34-year-old Aryan warrior had moved back home with his folks). Yet with a full year to prepare, they could muster only two dozen Whitesupremacists, according to The Atlantic. Black Lives Matter, anti-fascist, and other demonstrators vastly outnumbered them. According to The Atlantic, media alone outnumbered the nazis three to one.

But don’t be fooled. Just because their rally fizzled, their movement isn’t doomed. After all, White identity extremists hold power at every level of the US economy, military, media, educational system, and political structure, right up to the Oval Office. Those who ignore their power and their growth are doomed to follow in the train tracks of victims of Nazis past.

Enter Mike Stuchbery. He’s a Twitter commentator, popular historian, writer, and broadcaster based in Luton, England. He uses history and humour to challenge fascists online, delving into topics from Africans in Ancient Rome to George Orwell and why so many right-wingers love to claim that the Nazis of Germany were socialists, despite their deadly attacks on unionists, socialists, and communists in defense of Germany’s wealthiest people and corporations.

Mike Stuchbery spoke with me on April 13, 2018 by web video from his home in Luton. We discussed: 

  • Why right-wingers like to claim Nazism was socialist
  • What fascism is according to Umberto Eco
  • How and why German fascists co-opted certain socialist icons and principles while attacking socialism and socialists at every turn
  • How Stuchbery began his online fight with right wing extremists, how they targeted him for threats and abuse, and who routinely gets far, far worse than he did, and
  • Why the number one enemy of fascist women is fascist men

Just before I asked my first question, Stuchbery told me that while he was born in Australia, he’s lived in England and for a while lived in Germany, raising intriguing questions for me about his motivation for risking so much online to define what fascism is, and what it isn’t.

 

Mike-stuchbery.org

Mike Stuchbery’s Patreon Page

Umberto Eco’s Fourteen Aspects of Fascism

Michael Parenti on fascism

Michael Parenti on fascism as a false revolution

Michael Parenti: The Functions of Fascism

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Aug 1, 2018

If you’re an artist, it’s almost a guarantee you’ve experienced the difficulty of getting your work noticed. No matter how much you care, it seems too many other people just don’t. Being ignored that way is always frustrating, but it’s worse when it’s in your hometown, and even more so when you’ve worked to promote the work of other artists around you and even get them work.

That’s been the experience of Matt Alden Dykes. He’s an outstanding actor and improvisor, with decades on the job, and he’s also an executive producer, writer, and actor on the sketch comedy show Caution: May Contain Nuts. And if that weren’t enough, he’s worked on the TV shows Tiny Plastic Men and Delmer & Marta, and is a long-time member of Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre, the live improvised soap opera Die-Nasty, and the comedy troupe Blacklisted.

On May 1, 2018, we met at Simply Done Café in Edmonton’s Gallery District and discussed:

  • How difficult it’s been to get local artists and journalists to support his TV productions despite appearances from Canadian comedy legends
  • Repeatedly dealing with the condescending question, “So when are you moving to Toronto or Vancouver?”
  • Trying to get people to watch TV when new media including Netflix is changing how, when, why, and what people watch
  • The future of Caution: May Contain Nuts, and
  • How he’s bringing Star Wars to Edmonton

 

Cautiontv.com – Matt Alden

Rapid Fire Theatre – Matt Alden

Kanucks Cantina

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Jul 17, 2018

I taught junior high and high school English in Edmonton for a decade. I loved it; the job was demanding, but getting to know so many remarkable young people was a joy, and poring over stories, poems, and plays with them and exploring how to write about them and create their own was a blessing.

That being said, I was trained in a specific mode that hasn’t changed much in a long time. When I left public school teaching more than a decade ago, my distance from the classroom made me more capable of seeing my previous blindspots and the deficiencies of a traditional classroom.

In my experience since then, the most electrifying development in education has been gamification. You can find plenty of internet articles telling you why it’s a bad idea, claiming it amounts to bribing kids. Those people clearly don’t know what gamification is or can be, especially in the context of fantasy role playing games. It’s not simply handing out prizes for completion of tasks kids don’t care about—many parents and teachers have been doing that for ages even though research proves that doing so decreases enjoyment of the rewarded task.

Gamification is applying the process of games—what makes them fun, engaging, and addictive—to the experience of learning. Add in the aesthetics and imaginative story worlds and characters of role-play games, and you can create an immersive learning adventure that kids can’t wait to re-engage and which gives them reasons to learn content and skills that might otherwise bore them into failure. Gaming is a core human drive. While some other life forms play, we’re the only ones who make games, and we do so in every culture. Why not harness that essential drive?

To discuss how to gamify your classroom to help students learn more and love learning, I spoke with Scott Hebert. He’s the author of Press Play to Begin, a manual for teachers on how to implement game principles into their classes. He teaches at Our Lady of Angels in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, north-east of Edmonton. The Alberta Excellence in Teaching Awards named him a Top 20 Teacher in Alberta in 2013, and the World Gamification Congress honoured his work with its Best Gamification in Education Project Award in 2015. His website, mrhebert.org, contains videos and articles on gamification, and a link to buy Press Start to Begin.

We spoke by web video on May 22, 2018. We discussed:

  • What he learned about student disengagement by asking students to tell him what they hated about school
  • What his research into gamification revealed about core human drives
  • What business and the pharmaceutical industry taught him about how to motivate people
  • Why theme is a far more important motivator than points, badges, or leaderboards
  • Why students learn more when teachers emphasise process over product
  • Why kids need what looks like chaos and why teachers need to let them experience conflict in group work
  • And how he created his immersive medieval fantasy classroom and what it looks like

Scott Hebert Homepage

Scott Hebert TEDx Talk on Gamifying Education

Yu-kai Chou: Gamification & Behavioral Design

Yu-kai Chou: Octalysis – the complete gamification framework with free Udemy course

 

Four Ways to Bring Games to Your Classroom

Gamifying Education: Think Differently, Start Small

Classcraft

Gamifying Your World Language Classes

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Jul 11, 2018

So many people dream of being a children’s author, yet few take the plunge. Of those who do, far fewer decide the way to go is writing about a Muslim Somali girl and her family. Of the remainder, how many get national newspaper and CBC radio coverage? To my knowledge, only one, and she’s my guest today for the amazing success of her debut book, Muhiima’s Quest.

Rahma Rodaah came to Canada with her family from Somalia when she was eight years old. She’s lived in Quebec and Ottawa, and she now lives in Edmonton. Her path to children’s authorship was far from obvious: her degree is in international business, and she works for the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Community and Social Services in Social Work and Income Support. While she grew up loving Anne of Green Gables, after she became a mother she grew concerned that most images aimed at girls pushed European standards of beauty, and no stories she could find embraced either her Somali heritage or Islamic faith. And taking a page from her business education, she saw a need and decided to fill that need herself.

The result was Muhiima’s Quest, illustrated by Daria Horb, the indie-published story about ten-year-old Muhiima and her delightful birthday bicycle adventure of self-discovery.  After coverage on Omni TV’s Somali programme, the story of Muhiima’s Quest went national in the pages of the Toronto Star. Now a traditional publisher is courting Rodaah, and her second book, Little Brother for Sale, is already complete and just about to debut.

I spoke with Rahma Rodaah on June 26, 2018 at Simply Done Café in Edmonton’s Gallery District. We discussed: 

  • How she fell in love with reading, which Can-Lit classic was her early favourite, and why she knew that could never be enough for her own children
  • The challenges of finding the right illustrator for her book about a Somali-Canadian Muslim girl
  • The multiple meanings of hijab and the role it plays in Muhiima’s Quest
  • And how Rodaah achieved national arts coverage for her indie-published debut book

 

RahmaRodaah.com

African-Canadian Children’s Authors + Illustrators

Tololwa Mollel

African-Canadian children’s story books

49th Shelf’s list including African Canadian children’s books

Zetta Elliot’s list of books featuring African Canadian children, some by African authors + illustrators

Jul 4, 2018

Many people dream of making independent movies. I know I did. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was so inspired by Spike Lee that I read all of his “making of” books and in 1995 wrote a screenplay called The Coyote Kings for which I actually shot some test scenes with a group of friends in 1997. Of course, it didn’t go anywhere. 

But some people don’t stop at obstacles the way I did. They go around them or climb over them. Angie Zimaro is an Edmonton-based filmmaker went to film school at NAIT, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. She wrote and produced the post-apocalyptic indie film Dr. Plague.

Shot on location in Sherwood Park, Alberta and directed by her film school classmate Nathaniel Goselwitz, the film stars Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens legend Georges Laraque, and it won a Bronze Remi at WorldFest-Houston International Film & Video Festival 2018. Quite an achievement for a debut film!

On June 15 I met sat with Zimaro at the Simply Done Café in Edmonton’s gallery district to talk about making an award-winning debut short film. We also discussed: 

  • How to save money while making an indie film
  • Why creating a story can be fast while creating a script can be extremely slow
  • The career path to entering filmmaking later in life
  • How to finance entry fees for film festivals, and
  • How to snag a celebrity to star in your independent movie

 

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Jun 25, 2018

While it’s known by a range of names, Africentric science fiction and fantasy imagines Africans exploring and changing the universe with technology, science, and mystical means in the past, present, and future. Artists employing Africentric science fiction and fantasy, or what I call Afritopianism, work in literature, film, music, comics, fashion, video games, and more.

Recently in the US, two academics, Reynaldo Anderson and John Jennings, convened convention/art shows called the Black Speculative Arts Movement. Their only non-American participant at any early event was my guest today, the African-Canadian visual artist Quentin Babatunde Vercetty.

The Montreal-based VerCetty is an award winning visual storyteller, art educator, and graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design University; his Afritopian work engages immigration, decolonization, and “the lack of what he calls PDAA (Public display of Appreciation for Africa(ns).” His work has thrilled viewers around the world, including in places such as Mexico, Haiti, Peru, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany. He’s the founder of the Canadian chapter of the Black Speculative Arts Movement, and he’s been working to bring BSAM shows across the country.

VerCetty spoke with me by web video on May 7, 2018. We discussed:

  • Why Afritopian work appeals to so many African readers, listeners, and viewers, even though Eurocentric science fiction and fantasy ignored our existence for generations
  • His favourite Afritopian artists in music and visual arts
  • Why he isn’t focused on selling his work, and what he is focused on doing with it
  • The indispensable technique that none of his art school teachers knew how to teach him
  • How and why he uses QR codes as part of his art, and
  • What a Zulu priest in South Africa influenced him to do with his work

We began by discussing his own strong identification with the African continent and its civilisations, and how that identification directly relates to his Afritopianism.

Quentin VerCetty Made It Studios

Quentin VerCetty on Instagram

BSAM-art.com

BSAM Canada Facebook

Africentric SFF musicians Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Morgan Heritage, Janelle Monae, Jay Cole

Africentric SFF visual artists Komi Olaf, Kalkidan Assefa, Malicious, Paul Louis-Julie

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Jun 13, 2018

There is an infinite number of ways not to have a successful writing career, but not that many ways to have one. You can write your own original novels and if you’re in the luckiest one percent, you’ll find editors who understand and love what you’re doing, and who work with publicists who know how to promote your work with opinion-leaders who’ll also love your work. Your publisher will work with distributors who’ll get your books into the bookstores where staff hand-sell your work. If you’re less lucky, you’ll end up like 98 percent of writers, whose books get a sliver of shelf-space for three months and die in the discount bin or get pulped.

But there’s another lucky one percent. And when I say lucky, I don’t mean they’re not hard-working, because as you’re about to hear from today’s guest, hard-working in this case could mean writing six books in one year, and one book in eleven days. And by lucky, I also don’t mean devoid of skill and artistry, because today’s guest has won numerous awards proving he has the respect of fans and his peers.

No, by lucky, I mean getting asked to enter the world of writing other people’s characters from movies, comics, or video games in new novels, or existing comics, video games, or table top games. Insiders call it licensed writing; some refer to IPs or intellectual property. For decades fans simply called these works tie-ins. And today’s guest is a master of them.

I met Alex Irvine at San Diego Comic Con 2004 when Del Rey was launching my first novel, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, and his new book One King, One Soldier had just come out. We hit it off right away. Irvine has worked as a reporter at the Portland Phoenix and as an English professor at the Universities of Denver and Maine.

But he’s written far, far more than I have. If you include trade-paperback collected editions and all his original and tie-in books, he’s released more than thirty. He’s written novels based on Batman, Transformers, Pacific Rim, Supernatural, Tin Tin, Dungeons and Dragons, and Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, and has written comics for Marvel featuring Iron Man, Damien Hellstrom, and Daredevil. He’s written Alternate Reality Games including The Beast and I Love Bees, and the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance. His original novels include One King, One Soldier, The Narrows, and the Locus and Crawford-winning A Scattering of Jades.

Alex Irvine spoke with me by web video on May 25, 2018 from his home in Maine. We discussed: 

  • How and why he got started in the tie-in business, and why he’s stayed in it so long
  • The rewards of writing in so many different fields
  • Why he wishes he could write more slowly
  • The surprising flexibility of some tie-in publishers and a major Hollywood director, and the predictable rigidity of one, and
  • What you need to request in order to avoid getting exploited by publishers

 

AlexIrvine.blogspot.ca

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Jun 4, 2018

One of my favourite new TV series is the re-imagining of Lost in Space. It’s a great family show with rich characters and relationships, exciting adventures, and amazing depictions of future science discoveries. Plus, it’s got a great spaceship and a mysterious hulking robot. I’m hooked!

So imagine my delight when I’m watching the show and there onscreen is a friend from my old days at CJSR FM-88.5 campus-community radio at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It’s Veenu Sandhu!

I’d always thought Sandhu was from Edmonton, but it turns out she’s from Dawson Creek, British Columbia. I also had no idea until recently that she’s a longtime fan-girl herself who knows more about Star Trek: Voyager than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s been on the superhero show Arrow, the science-fantasy series Fringe, the ABC dramas Somewhere Between and The Whispers, and in the movies Cop and a Half: New Recruit with Lou Diamond Phillips, and A Dog’s Way Home.

And now on Netflix’s Lost in Space, she plays astronaut Prisha Dhar, mother of young astronaut Vijay and wife of astronaut leader Victor. Once I saw Sandhu on Lost in Space, I knew I’d have to have her on the show. So on May 2, 2018 she spoke with me from her Vancouver home by internet video. We discussed:

  • The hustle and grind of being a working actor
  • Getting hired on Arrow and Fringe
  • The attitude and effort required to make it in the Vancouver film and television sector
  • And how close working on Lost in Space came to being her dream job

Veenu Sandhu also runs workshops for actors seeking to beat audition anxiety. Her next one is in Vancouver on June 13, 2018. The cost is $50. To register, email actorveenu@gmail.com.

 

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May 28, 2018

All humans face fear and sadness at times, especially when facing the stresses that are common to the human experience: potential job loss, alienation, illness, the death of loved ones, and more. But for some people, fear and sadness are present most or all of them time, and their power is overwhelming. Just five years ago, 3 million Canadians or almost twelve percent of us reported having a mood or anxiety disorder. About the same number will experience diagnosable depression at some point.

And yet for many, the stigma of mental illness is so strong that they can’t even use the phrase. They’ll say, “mental health issues” or “mental health challenges.” Among many new Canadian communities, the shame may be even greater, resulting in denial being number one coping strategy. But denial is no cure, and often makes people worse.

To discuss such problems and the strategies to help them, I recently spoke with Edmonton financial adviser, speaker, and author Odion Welch. She’s the author of Breakthrough: A Courageous True Story of Overcoming Depression and Anxiety. Each chapter of the book addresses a specific mental illness stressor such as familial and romantic relationships, careers, body image, and grief. We met at the Simply Done café in Edmonton’s gallery district on May 4, 2018. We discussed:

  • The real reasons that people abuse alcohol and drugs
  • How to counter the constant terror of making mountains out of molecules
  • The various causes of depression, especially among immigrant families, and why immigrant parents need to let their children discover and even fail
  • Therapies that work for some and not others
  • The psychological importance of being touched, and the many reasons so many people are starved for physical contact

OdionWelch.com

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May 7, 2018

Humanity needs books. I don’t mean that everybody loves reading, because clearly that’s not true. But it is true that many of us do love books, not only for the remarkable ideas they make us consider, but for how they lift our morale above the mundanity and the cruelty of the world, and inspire our souls and our intellects to transform our societies for the better.

No genre is more devoted to such inspiration and transformation than science fiction. And that’s why the refusal of the science fiction publishing industry, for generations, to offer a racial, cultural, and gender palette that reflects the true range of humanity has been so galling. It has deprived the majority of the human race the comfort and provocation we seek, and deprived our species of the ingenuity that we would have unleashed had we been so inspired.

Fortunately, the last two decades in particular have seen the beginning of a change, with the rise of African writers winning major sales and the top prizes for science fiction and fantasy writing, and the emergence of my guest’s company, the multiracial SFF publishing house Rosarium.

Based in Washington DC, Rosarium publishes novels, graphic novels, and comics, beginning with the seminal anthology Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond. The house’s writers include Pan Morigan, Nisi Shawl, Sheree Renee Thomas, Maurice Broaddus, Damian Duffy, Jaymee Goh, Ed Hall, and John Jennings, among many others. If you check the MF GALAXY archive, you’ll hear my conversation with one of one of Rosarium’s authors, Eileen Kaur Alden, the writer of the Super Sikh comic.

Bill Campbell spoke with me online on March 03, 2018. We discussed:

  • How he fell in love with SFF
  • The significance of authors Samuel Delaney and Octavia Butler to his work and life
  • The racist obstacles he faced as a novelist from publishing industry gatekeepers who told him his work wasn’t “ghetto” enough
  • How he founded Rosarium Publishing
  • Why it’s so difficult to racially integrate the shelves of comic book stores, and
  • How the gigantic success of the Black Panther movie will affect Africentric science fiction and fantasy publishing

Along the way, Campbell mentions “POD,” meaning “print-on-demand,” a system in which writers can get single copies of their books made for as little as a few dollars each, rather than having to pay to print, ship, and store hundreds of books at a time. Campbell also discusses his anthology Mothership and co-editor Ed Hall. In full disclosure, one of my stories is in that anthology.

Rosarium Publishing

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Apr 30, 2018

Whether you hear this podcast the day it went live—April 30, 2018—or any other day, you’ll have some mass-shooting in the United States that makes this discussion timely. According to AOL.com, in 2017 the United States endured 345 mass shootings. The Atlantic reported in 2016 that the US, with less than five percent of the world’s population, holds 35 – 40 percent of the world’s guns. The Gun Violence Archive reports that in 2017, Americans used guns to kill 15,000 Americans; more than 3000 of them were teens; police shot or killed more than 2000; and more than 2000 shootings were unintentional.

According to stereotypes, US Republicans love guns and US Democrats hate them, and since African-Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, according to the transitive principle, most African-Americans must hate guns, too, right? After all, a lethal triad of street criminals, police criminals, and Whitesupremacist criminals use guns to terrorise African-Americans.

But it’s not that simple, as history demonstrates, and as my guest today will show.

Chad Glover is a writer and software developer from Philadelphia. According to his bio, he “grew up in a household where guns were commonplace,” but he “didn’t explore firearms as a skill and legacy until he moved to Stone Mountain Georgia,” which he calls “the spiritual home of the KKK.” That led him to write “about the forgotten ways that firearm ownership shaped the struggle for African liberation,” a tradition that includes the Deacons for Defense and the Black Panther Party. He describes himself as “a liberal gun owner,” and an active part of a continually-growing African-American gun community. You can find his essays on his African gun ownership at his blog, Daddys-gun.com.

Chad Glover spoke with me by digital video on March 23, 2018, from his home in Atlanta. We discussed:

  • The understandable motivations for gun control advocacy, but what those motives ignore
  • How Euro-American massacres against African-American communities demonstrate the importance of African gun ownership
  • The effective response to racist so-called open-carry marchers
  • Why the Trojan Horse gun control strategy of getting African- and Muslim-Americans to join NRA will not work, and
  • What the discussion of gun control would need to include for him to take the movement seriously

 

Apr 25, 2018

Hip hop began almost 50 years ago, and it’s changed more and encompassed more than any musical or lyrical aesthetic in that time that I can think of. Careers rise and fall, styles change and grow, but one thing remains the same: a great voice, clear delivery, a range of subjects, and intelligent insight as a package will almost guarantee immortality.

For years I hosted a radio show called Asiko Phantom Pyramid: Global African Musics Led by Headcharge of Hip Hop, and when it came to hip hop acts I’d play again and again, the list always include Public Enemy, KRS-One, Paris, and my guest today, the Boston-based rapper Akrobatik, and his partnership with the superb Mr. Lif in the crew called The Perceptionists. Akrobatik grabbed my imagination with 2003’s Balance, his first album, and proved he was no flash-in-the-pan with the 2005 Perceptionists album Black Dialogue. His music has appeared on HBO’s The Wire, in films such as Date Movie, and in video games such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

As a result of a ruptured heart valve, Akrobatik has also transformed himself physically, determined as he is to stay alive for his family, and to offer his gifts to the world. Those gifts include albums such as Absolute Value, Built to Last, and Resolution.

Akrobatik spoke with me by Skype on April 10, 2018 from his home in Boston. We discussed:

  • The influence on his life of his favourite teacher
  • The discipline required to keep creating entertaining and insightful lyrics
  • Whose hip hop skills and careers he would like emulate
  • How he came to teach at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and how he balances that with his music career
Apr 16, 2018

For ages, inside and outside fan circles, the stereotype was that Africans and Indigenous people don’t like science fiction. That’s a bizarre myth. After all, because both science fiction and fantasy offer the spirit and the intellect the chance to remake the world. For peoples who remember the historical destruction of their own worlds and live under oppression, escape stories offer indispensable hope—the dream that deliverance is possible. And when they offer the intellect the means to plan utopia, or at least a new-topia, they’re even more powerful.

That yearning helps explain the extraordinary success of Black Panther, and the promise offered by award-winning science fiction filmmakers such as my guest today, Danis Goulet. She’s a Cree-Metis filmmaker from LaRonge, Saskatchewan. She’s an alumna of the National Screen Institute's Drama Prize Program in Canada and the TIFF Talent lab. Her social realist and science fiction films and virtual reality work have gone to the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and imagineNATIVE. Her VR includes The Hunt, and her films include the dramas Barefoot and Wapawekka, and the post-apocalyptic Wakening. That stunning 2013 short film imagines a future Toronto crushed under an unknown hypertechnological occupation. And engaging their ancient conflict at doomsday are two titans of Cree mythology: Weesagichak, the genderless shapeshifter from the stars, and Weetigo, the ruthless cannibal spirit of insatiable hunger.

On March 15, 2018, Danis Goulet spoke with me by Skype from her home in Toronto. We discussed: 

  • Her early history as a fan girl and a young filmmaker
  • Her move into art house cinema and then into global Indigenous film
  • Why science fiction matters so much, especially to oppressed and occupied people
  • The political significance of the immortals Weesagichak and Weetigo
  • How she made her stunning film Wakening,
  • And how on a budget of $100,000, she made it look like millions

WAKENING

INTERVIEW WITH DANIS GOULET ABOUT WAKENING

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Apr 11, 2018

I am a pernsnicketty cat—some would say difficult—and I have been known to argue at length that no one should ever use the expression “laughed out loud” because all laughter is out loud, by definition. So that means if I can overcome my boundless rage enough to invite the host of a national radio programme called Laugh Out Loud, I must really be impressed. And I am.

But Ali Hassan actually grabbed my attention not by MCing that showcase for Canadian comedians, but rather for his excellent work as an interviewer and guest host on CBC Radio’s q. I liked his voice, I liked his rapport with guests, and I liked his questions—but what totally floored me was that he easily and accurately dropped a reference to KRS-One during an interview without explaining it. I thought, I have got to contact this dude. So I did, and that’s what led to today’s conversation about the art, craft, and business of stand-up comedy and interviewing.

Hassan is a Pakistani-Canadian comedian, actor, and chef from Montreal. He’s toured Canada and performed at Just for Laughs and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival; he’s performed across the US and the Middle East, and took his one-man show Muslim, Interrupted to Scotland for the planet’s biggest comedy festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s been in the movies Breakaway, French Immersion, and Goon!, and on TV he’s on Odd Squad, Man Seeking Woman, Game On, Cardinal, Designated Survivor, and FUBAR: Age of Computer.

Hassan spoke with me by Skype on February 2, 2018. We discussed:

  • How the ethics and personalities of stand-up are so different from those of improv comedy
  • The bizarre array of careers he attempted and what he learned from them that prepared him for comedy
  • How hosting Canada Reads was the ideal training ground to host CBC q
  • When a comedy MC should purposefully tank his own performance
  • How to teach inexperienced journalists the most important quality for their job, and
  • When you should leave interviewing permanently

 

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Mar 19, 2018

It’s been well over two thousand, three hundred years since an actual Egyptian sat on the throne of the Nile Valley’s greatest civilisation. Since then, only foreigners have controlled Kemet, the true name for Egypt. And yet control over Kemet remains a fierce battle to this day.

On the one side are Eurocentrists who, to build their racial self-esteem, and to justify the massive crime of imperialism against Africa, have spent the last three hundred years Whitewashing the civilisation into something that their own Greek and Roman ancestors never claimed.

On the other side is everyone who embraces the historical record, physical anthropology, comparative linguistics and culture, and, of course, DNA. They recognise what most of Hollywood, Arabs in Egypt, and the Western academic establishment refuse to: that Kemet was an African civilisation from its farmers to its pharaohs.

Previously on MF Galaxy I’ve had a range of guests discussing African Egypt, including Molefi Kete Asante, Martin Bernal, Richard Poe, and Runoko Rashidi. Today I’m delighted to add a new authority to the roster: Deidra Ramsey McIntyre. She’s a programmer, tech-writer, journalist, entrepreneur, and teacher. She’s been a cross-disciplinary writer on Kemet for years, bridging genetics, culture, and ancient documents to demonstrate the Africanity of the Nile Valley civilisation.

McIntyre is also the administrator of the Facebook group Africa: Ancient Kemet & Nubia connection group. She creates succinct infographics about Kemet’s Africanity, and writes at length about Kemet on Quora.

McIntyre spoke with me by Skype from her home on February 22, 2018. We discussed:

  • Why pop culture such as the massively successful Black Panther movie won’t be enough to stop the academy from Whitewashing Kemet
  • The major reason why so many Westerners cling to the belief that Ancient Egypt was non-African, despite the wide-ranging evidence that proves them wrong
  • The savage attacks that Eurocentrists mount against even White academics who simply discuss the facts
  • The Whitewashing of Tutankhamun by National Geographic, and which iconic sculpture from Ancient Kemet is actually a Eurocentric fake

Along the way, we discussed a range of topics, some of which don’t get explained in our conversation. So, a few notes:

  • The name Kemet means “the black land” as in its rich soil, but also, according to Black Athena author Martin Bernal in an interview with me from years ago, “land of Black people.” The name “Egypt” is an English rendering of Aigyptos, a Greek corruption of the ancient Kemetic name “Het-Ka-Ptah.”
  • Cheikh Anta Diop was a Senegalese nuclear physicist and Egyptologist, author of many works including the classic The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth Or Reality?
  • The White Crown is the name given to the gourd-like crown of southern Egypt
  • Zawi Hawass is an Arab Egyptologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs in the Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Finally, while discussing the cultural significance of Black Panther, I quoted what it had earned the day our discussion. As of March 18, 2018, the day I’m recording this episode, Black Panther had earned $1.18 billion globally.
  • The fictional Wakandan panther god Bast is the actual ancient feline goddess Bast, Baset, or Bastet from Ancient Kemet, and the Wakandan script seems mostly based on Tifinagh, an ancient Berber script spread over Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya, and Algeria.

Deidra Ramsey McIntyre’s Quora Articles on Kemet

Nefertiti bust a forgery

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Mar 15, 2018

Many Canadians, Indigenous and settler alike, were furious to learn the back-to-back verdicts in two murder cases. Juries declared Gerald Stanley not guilty of killing 22-year-old Colten Boushie, and Raymond Courmier not guilty of killing 14-year-old Tina Fontaine. The cases exposed how our colonial justice system makes it easy to exclude Indigenous citizens from juries and how rarely families can expect those who kill their loved ones to go to prison.

Some people protested in the streets. Some people protested with their art. Some people wept for the dead and for the future of their children. And some people did all three.

One such man is Rex Smallboy, the former leader of War Party, one of the country’s most successful hip hop bands ever. The motivational speaker and award-winning artist from Alberta’s Maskwacis Cree reserve released the song “Hey They Killing Us” immediately after the jury freed Tina Fontaine’s killer. You’ll hear it later in this show in which Smallboy discusses:

  • The level of anxiety he faces at the thought of his children simply going out of the house
  • The angry reactions some settlers, including a friend, gave him for discussing the racism that Indigenous Canadians experience daily
  • His fears that Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine will be forgotten
  • What he wants more than anything else
  • The one place in Canada he’s found where Indigenous and settler Canadians live together with respect and kindness, and what it’s going to take to fix the country

Rex Smallboy spoke with me by Skype on March 6, 2018. During our discussion he referred to Hobbema, the former settler name for the Maskwacis Cree reserve 70 km south of Edmonton.

 

Jury says Tina Fontaine’s killer can walk free

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