Categories: Entertainment

Fraser book a seminal work

It’s incomprehensible to understand how a book like this hasn’t existed until now but it’s even more unfathomable to see it as just one volume.

Given the subject materials and the flowing, passionate way that Fil Fraser writes, this should be either a compendium edition or an annual series, constantly being updated and expanded. This kind of non-fiction is what makes countries stronger and should be distributed to junior high schools.

Edmonton native Fraser, one of this country’s leading performing artists and human rights activists, developed this manuscript as an extension of his work on the television series called Hymn to Freedom. That documentary lasted only four hours, so while it must have felt complete at the time, it was really only a precursor to a more lengthy and literary composition. TV, after all, is transient. Literature is forever and so he has submitted this to the ages as a tribute to our collective history and to frame our future.

I really enjoyed his writing style for being neither too flowery nor too intellectual, as it could have so easily been. This is a book designed, almost crafted with a broad audience in mind. There are only 10 chapters though so if you’re looking for specifics on the Ethiopian, Somalian or other division then you’ll have to look a little harder and feast as diligently on what feels like the crumbs provided.

That being said, what you do get is fascinating and important stuff, and not just for history nerds or scholars on the black experience. Anyone who cares for riveting Law & Order type stories of crime and injustice will certainly appreciate the tale of social activist Burnley ‘Rocky’ Jones. Considered radical for his outspokenness even going back to the late 1950s, Jones had a mild association with the Black Panthers in Nova Scotia of all places. In his later years he has become an important lawyer and has pursued litigation on behalf of blacks, even going up to the Supreme Court.

Fraser is a fine writer to be sure and tenders his words carefully upon the page. His exquisite skill cannot go unnoticed by the reader. While the quality is undeniable, I just wish that there were a greater quantity — more people, more in-depth detail. I was left feeling like there was still much that I had to learn and I want more.

How the Blacks Created Canada

Written by: Fil Fraser
255 pages
Dragon Hill Publishing

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.