CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008
Heroism does not always involve acts of physical courage and dangerous situation, although the Golden Eagles Hotshots (a group of Native American men who fight wildfires) and Lieutenant Mark Bowman, a Choctaw police officer, truly engage in heroic action in the course of their work. However, the courage demonstrated by the other eight men profiled in this book is the courage of conviction, of pride in their heritage, and of steadfastness in continuing what they need to do. The 10 men profiled in this book are all contemporary men of courage. Canadians are represented by the following: Patrick Brazeau, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Algonquin in heritage; Frank Abraham, Chief of the Little Black River Ojibwe Band; and Stanley Vollant, an Innu who is currently an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Ottawa. The others are Americans: Red Hawk, Chief and President of the Cherokee Nation, public speaker, story-teller, and an ambassadorial figure in Native American relations; Larry Merculieff, a key figure in community activism on behalf his people, the Aleuts of Alaska; Senator Ben Whitehorse Campbell, a Cheyenne whose diverse talents include membership on the 1964 U.S. Olympic Judo Team, jewellery design and production, and finally, election to the U. S. Senate; Chief Tom Porter, a Mohawk whose commitment to his traditions has made him a leader in cultural preservation and whose spirituality leads him to minister to the needs of native inmates within New York State's correctional system; and finally, Raymond Cross, of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara ancestry, whose legal talents would culminate in the award of a massive settlement to his ancestral tribes, as compensation for flooding and damage to tribal lands, resulting from the Garrison Dam project in North Dakota.
Most of these men grew up in very difficult circumstances, experiencing poverty, family breakdown and systemic racism. Still, all found the strength and courage to make the most of opportunities presented to them, to overcome the odds, and to show resilience in the face of challenge. As much as possible, Vincent Schilling has these men tell their own life-stories, rather than his being the primary reporter and narrator. In doing so, he allows them to "show" rather than "tell" the qualities that make them "men of courage." And, truly, their stories are compelling.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.