Author: Colin Gillespie

Portrait of a People; A Study in Survival

Publisher: Big Fizz Inc

ISBN: 978-0-9918436-1-9

Colin Gillespie, author of Portrait of a People, is Aussie-Canadian. (2017, inside front cover) He also happens to be rather amazing in that he is a lawyer, physicist, author and strategist! Colin has travelled to over fifty countries on seven continents. As an author he has penned over one hundred fifty articles on physics, radiation, neurophysiology, quantum physics, and biophysics. He holds a doctorate from Monash University in Quantum Physics and a J.D. from the University of Manitoba. He has worked for the National Research Council of Canada and the Atomic Energy of Canada.

Gillespie practiced law and was managing partner at the Taylor McCaffrey firm where is specialization was aboriginal, constitutional, environmental, indigenous and space law. He was instrumental in starting action against paper companies and governments with regard to mercury poisoning of tribes in Ontario, Canada. Other published works are; Radiation-Induced Events and Their Time Scale in Mammalian Cells (with Don Chapman); This Changes Everything; and Time One: Discover How the Universe Began.

I took my time reading this book because it was filled with case studies and insight into the Pimicikamak Tribe. It introduced me to Canadian law with regard to the Crown and how it pertains to so many things. Taking my time allowed me to do in justice in my review. That said, it was an enlightening educational experience to read this book.

In the preface Doctor Gillespie states that “This book is about survival in the face of adversity…”. (2017, p. 2) It depicts a painstakingly tragic shift from the Pimicikamak Tribe managing their own internal affairs to being steered by outside powers. “The strategic weapon then was not the gun, nor starvation, nor disease; it was law and its handmaiden, language.” (p.3)

For those of you, like me, who have no idea who the Pimicikamak Tribe is; “Pimicikamak is a Cree-speaking indigenous people. Its territory [Pimicikamak] lies in the boreal forest on the ancient rock of the Canadian Shield north of Lake Winnipeg.”(2017, p.4) Much of this book introduces the reader to the dynamics of the Pimicikamak Tribe and its interactions with the government of Canada, especially with regard to their native territories and the numerous treaties that have contributed to violation and infringement of their rights according to Gillespie.

An Indian Band is a federal municipality with wide responsibilities, but severely limited capacity.” (2017, p.10) They are entirely at the whim of Parliament. Furthermore, the Indian Act has set forth guidelines that diminish their control and likened them to being less than a corporation. Similarly, the Band can bring forth law suits and can be sued, but they are not allowed to own property in their own names.

Most laws in most countries and states are written. Not so with the Pimicikamak. Their laws are largely symbolic and oral and most often do not carry a penalty for violation. (2017, paraphrase, p.12) They are grounded in what they believe to be spiritually dutiful, wise, or civil.

I enjoyed learning about the various laws and treaties and how the poor Pimicikamak have been unjustly manipulated by the Crown. My wish for them, as a people, is to live as they choose so long as it remains peaceful and civil. I’m sorry that governments have long since sought to overtake Tribes across North America and Canada and erode their indigenous rights as a people. They deserve so much more. Read this book, listen to its message and see if you don’t concur.