Today’s author interview is with Douglas L. Bland, who is the author of Uprising. In the interview Douglas talks to us about his book and the Idle No More movement that is sweeping across Canada.
Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?
Douglas: Uprising began as a research non-fiction work intended to explain the connection between the First Nations communities in Canada to the latest theoretical studies on the causes of insurgencies. I soon realized that the theory when applied to our situation explained not only the problems between our communities, but it also provided a fair prediction of where we were heading if things did not change.
Douglas: Getting this message out to the academic community would do little if the message failed to reach so-called “ordinary Canadians”. So I rewrote the book as fiction using the actual facts I had discovered in the non-fiction research. The issues are serious but it was and is not a view that most governments want to have out on the street. My scenario has no real date but in 2006 more or less, I thought things would come to a head in 2013-2014 and be ignited by a policy mistake by the government. I thought, also, that the Uprising would be directed by the non-establishment native community and not the formal establishment of chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). It was indeed the spontaneous Idle No More (INM) that set off this now irreversible political challenge and it is unfolding much as the research suggested it would.
Caitlyn: How did you come up with the title?
Douglas: The title is a compromise between myself and the editor and publisher, I called the book, Indians Wars 2013. The editor thought the title a bit too aggressive and that the date might unintentionally block the intended future sense of the work, So we settled on Uprising but it was the dramatic book cover that sold the title to me.
Caitlyn: Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your work, and why you felt compelled to explore it.
Douglas: The theme taken from the academic literature is based on the idea that insurgencies are launched by a pent up combination of ”grief and grievances” and that they can be prevented or averted when these motives are redressed … think of the residential schools issue in the FN community. New research however dismisses this logic and argues that insurgencies occur when the conditions are right; in other words, when the chances of success exist thus making a revolt ‘feasible’. Feasibility occurs when the aggrieved community (FN) is composed of a large percentage of young men and when at the same time the nation’s (Canada) economy depends on natural resources and the transportation of those resources through difficult to defence territory that is home to the aggrieved community. Over the past few years the FN have learned that Canada’s economy is very vulnerable and they are learning also that Canada does no have the means to protect, for instance, thousands of miles of railway lines that run through native lands. Uprising demonstrates how these factors will play out unless something can be done to correct them … unfortunately, it may now be too late to do much of anything.
Caitlyn: In your own work, which character are you most attached to and why?
Douglas: The most startling response to the book came from public officials, and some military officers who suggested that “… you shouldn’t have written the book, It give the natives too many ideas on how to use their power. It’s the most dangerous book in Canada.” The fact is that since the rebellion in Oka and the insurgency in Caledonia it is obvious that the radical leaders in the FNs don’t need any coaching from outside. As one of the leaders of the group that shutdown the railway system between Montreal and Toronto and the 401 highway near Belleville a few years ago said: “The white-man made a mistake when they built their infrastructure on our land. Now we have the power.” That realization is at the heart of Uprising and also the INM strategy.
DOUGLAS BLAND retired as a lieutenant-colonel after 30 years with the Canadian Forces, and then became Chair in Defence Studies at Queen’s University. A respected author of non- fiction, he often advises those in the highest offices on defence and security.
The Markerting Coordinator at Dundurn, lover of books, tea and dancing in the rain.