A heart-rending true story about racial injustice, residential schools and a path forward.
Divided by a beautiful valley and 150 years of racism, the Waywayseecappo reserve and the town of Rossburn have been neighbours for nearly as long as Canada has been a country. Their story reflects much of what has gone wrong in relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. It also offers, in the end, an uncommon measure of hope.
In the town of Rossburn, once settled by Ukrainian immigrants, the average family income is near the national average and more than a third of adults have graduated from university. By contrast, the average family on the Waywayseecappo reserve lives below the national poverty line and less than a third of adults have graduated from high school. Many live in the shadow of the residential school system. Valley of the Birdtail details the way these two communities became separate and unequal—and what it means for the rest of us. Following multiple generations of two families, the book weaves their experiences into the larger story of Canada. It is a story with villains and heroes, irony and idealism, racism and reconciliation. A story with the ambition to change the way people think about Canada’s past, present and future. This books contains map + b&w illustrations.
Andrew Stobo Sniderman is a writer, lawyer and Rhodes Scholar from Montreal. He has published reporting and op-eds in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen and the Sunday Times (UK). His profile of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools won the award for best print feature of 2011 from the Canadian Association of Journalists. Andrew has argued before the Supreme Court and advocated for Indigenous clients. He has also served as the human rights policy advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and as a law clerk for a judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court.
Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) is Swampy Cree, Beaver clan, of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He is a lawyer, law professor and Fulbright Scholar. Born in West Germany while his father served in the Canadian Air Force, Douglas grew up in small towns across western Canada. He is a frequent contributor to Policy Options and Global Brief and has served as a senior policy advisor to the government of Ontario in the offices of the Attorney General and Aboriginal Affairs. Sanderson is the Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He received the 2021 Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize for his lifetime of work in the field of human rights.
2023 Evergreen Award Nominee - adult, English, fiction / non-fiction