A Short History of Indians in Canada


One of my favorite short story collections is Tom King’s A Short History of Indians in Canada: Stories. I have admired King since listening to his Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour on CBC radio. He explores the truth of our shared experiences to make us laugh, and ache.

The first story in the collection, in which “indians” hit sky scrapers like migrating birds, is one of the most powerful things I have ever read. I laughed through tears. This should be required reading for all North Americans.

I also enjoyed the story in which a mother and daughter try to cross the border between the United States and Canada. For the mother, it is a matter of principle to say that she is a citizen of her tribe — not of Canada. They end up caught between borders, camped out at the duty free store. Eventually they draw crowds and TV cameras but they never back down.

With King, the comedy is in recognition: the packed lunch, the dialogue, the details so sharp you feel you are there. The tragedy is in Canadian history and current events.

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