Bill Waiser on Almighty Voice, and how history is written and re-written


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Bill Waiser is a western Canadian historian. He has published more than a dozen books– many of them prize-winning. A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905, for example, won the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

Bill has been appointed to the Order of Canada, awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, named a distinguished university professor, and granted a D.Litt. He was the 2018 recipient of the Royal Society of Canada J.B. Tyrrell medal, presented for “outstanding work” in Canadian history, as well as the 2018 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: The Pierre Berton Award.

We talk about his most recent book In Search of Almighty Voice, Resistance and Reconciliation (Fifth House, 2020), about the life of Almighty Voice - a member of the One Arrow Willow Cree who died violently at the hands of Canada's North-West Mounted Police in 1897 - and how his violent death spawned a succession of conflicting stories — in newspapers, magazines, pulp fiction, plays and film; about how history is written and re-written, and why an 'accurate' depiction of the life and death of Almighty Voice matters.

Clarification: According to Statscan indigenous people make up 4.9% of Canada's population, 16.3% of Saskatchewan's population.

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