Sunday, September 27, 2009

White Bird Black Bird, Epic Novel of the Rights of Native Canadians vs. the Development of Oil and Gas Resources

White Bird Black Bird was written by Val Wake, the Australian-born journalist who worked for many years in Canada and England before returning to his native land. Wake worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC ) from 1969-73, the time when a nascent native rights movement ran head-on into oil and gas development, big business and government policies. Wake's fictionalized account of the conflicts comes directly from his personal experience as the broadcast reporter who covered this story on location for the CBC, doing so by traveling from his base in Yellowknife throughout the Arctic regions of Canada.

While the rights of indigenous peoples have now been established to some extent in various countries, this was not the case during the tumultuous, initial development of energy resources in the Canadian north. In fact, it was only in 2007 that the United Nations adopted its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Wake tells his story from the perspective of fictional journalist Warren Pritchard and provides the kind of details that give his fiction true credibility. For such an important story in a relatively unknown time and place, we are lucky to have Val Wake's insider knowledge as the basis of his book. I'm sure that Wake's time as an information officer for the British government added insight into the relationship between government and big business.

Those with an interest in human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, the politics and business of exploiting energy resources, or one of the little-known stories of North American development, will see that White Bird Black Bird provides the goods. The novel also offers a rich and exciting read for fiction lovers everywhere.

White Bird Black Bird is available at I hope to follow up this brief post with an author interview accomplished by email.

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  1. Hi Jim, this sounds like an interesting book on an important topic. It's shocking how recent some of the legislation is.
    Here's what's been happening with Cut Short, the first in my Geraldine Steel series of crime thrillers. Cut Short launched in the UK three months ago and my publisher had to reprint after two months, thanks to good reviews, BBC Radio interviews, local paper reviews, literary festivals and word of mouth recommendations. You can see me reading a short extract on youtube -
    Feel free to contact me if you'd like to post details about my experience as a debut author -
    you can find my email on my blog.

  2. Thanks, Leigh!

    You are certainly right about White Bird Black Bird and how recently, if at all, some indigenous people have received some rights.

    The news about Cut Short is wonderful and will be of interest to all who visit my blog. Congratulations! I'll try to find the time to contact you about pursuing the backstory via an interview (I'm not writing much for fun these days...).

  3. Hope to see you back in the blogging seat soon. Your post are very interesting and informative and they are missed. Happy Holiday.


  4. Thanks for the kind words, A.J.! I am still reading, but have had to write a lot of nonfiction for work lately, etc. Best wishes, Jim