Cora J. Voyageur, David R. Newhouse and Dan Beavon (eds), Hidden in Plain Sight: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture, Volume 2 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 504 pp. Cased. $80. ISBN 978-0-4426-4074-0. Paper. $37.95. ISBN 978-1-4426-1012-5.
Chief Seattle is quoted as saying that 'Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are one thread in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to our selves, all things are bound together. All things connect.' Volume 2 of Hidden in Plain Sight is an extraordinary illustration of how Aboriginal people are woven into this complex tapestry of Canadian life. This collection of essays and biographies provides concrete examples of how Aboriginal peoples in Canada have contributed to our economy, our communities, our environment, education, politics, arts and culture, which allows for even a reader uninitiated in Aboriginal issues to gain an understanding of the complexities of these issues in Canada.
As a researcher involved in Aboriginal studies, it can often be challenging to find resources that not only provide a critical commentary on Aboriginal--Canadian relations, but also provide a full and vibrant picture of Aboriginal peoples' daily and ongoing involvement in Canadian life. This collection answers that challenge. In the section of the book on economic and community development, R. Wesley Heber, Frank Tough and Edwinna von Baeyer all remind us that Aboriginal peoples have been pivotal in the development of Canada as a modern economic power. These well-researched articles are the most potent tools to combat the negative stereotypes that are all too familiar in Canadian society. The section on the environment highlights the difficulties in striking a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development. Duhaime, Bernard and Caron's examination of mining on Aboriginal lands, for example, provides a thoughtful and detailed review of the issue of resource development on Aboriginal lands in a modern global economy--a truly pressing issue.
The editors and contributors to this book are a testament to a positive approach towards Aboriginal--Canadian relations. The biographies of Olive Patricia Dickason, Malcolm King and Maria Ann Batiste, among others, speak to the ongoing work that Aboriginal peoples are doing in Canada to contribute to an optimistic future. This work is being done in communities, and is too often overlooked in a broad survey of the state of Aboriginal culture and education. So too in politics, the editors of this collection have brought together erudite and thoughtful resources focusing on the considerable impact of Aboriginal people. In the final section of this collection the editors have brought together essays and biographies on the cultural contribution of Aboriginal peoples through art and music. Wanda Dalla Costa's essay on Aboriginal architecture, for example, examines the contributions of Aboriginal peoples in Canada on the literal landscape of Canada.
Hidden in Plain Sight provides an excellent source for the building of new relationships, answering that now familiar call by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. This collection is a reminder that there may be, in the editors words, 'numerous fault lines' (p. 3) between Aboriginal people and Canada in 'history, policy and circumstance' (p. 3). There has also been, however, a fundamental paradigm shift, of which this book is evidence, to a constructive future where we can recognise that the tapestry of Canadian life is greatly enriched by the first peoples of Canada.
Tracie Scott, Independent Scholar