Part of the Lifelong Fellowship portfolio, The Scholars’ Library is a monthly book talk series, where Rhodes alumni can come together to present, discover and debate their literary works. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to Georgie Thurston at firstname.lastname@example.org
For our first event in 2023, we are pleased to invite you to take part in a conversation with Andrew Stobo Sniderman Québec & Exeter 2008) on his co-authored book 'Valley of the Birdtail'. Moderated by Zehra Naqvi (British Columbia & Gren Templeton 2018), amongst other topics Andrew will discuss the journey of writing the book, idealism, racism & reconciliation.
Divided by a beautiful valley and 150 years of racism, the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo Indian reserve have been neighbours nearly as long as Canada has been a country. Their story reflects much of what has gone wrong in relations between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians. It also offers, in the end, an uncommon measure of hope.
Valley of the Birdtail is about how two communities became separate and unequal—and what it means for the rest of us. In Rossburn, once settled by Ukrainian immigrants who fled poverty and persecution, family income is near the national average and more than a third of adults have graduated from university. In Waywayseecappo, the average family lives below the national poverty line and less than a third of adults have graduated from high school, with many haunted by their time in residential schools.
This book follows multiple generations of two families, one white and one Indigenous, and weaves their lives into the larger story of Canada. It is a story of villains and heroes, irony and idealism, racism and reconciliation. Valley of the Birdtail has the ambition to change the way we think about our past and show a path to a better future.
You may obtain a copy of 'Valley of the Birdtail' here - https://www.harpercollins.ca/9781443466301/valley-of-the-birdtail/
Andrew Stobo Sniderman (Québec & Exeter 2008) is a writer, lawyer, and Rhodes Scholar from Montreal. He has written for the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, and Maclean’s. He has also argued before the Supreme Court of Canada, served as the human rights policy advisor to the Canadian minister of foreign affairs, and worked for a judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court.
Zehra Naqvi (British Columbia & Green Templeton 2018) is a writer and educator. She has written and edited for various publications internationally. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Room, The New Quarterly, Contemporary Verse 2, and The Capilano Review, amongst others. Her suite of poems 'The Knot of My Tongue' received the 2021 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers awarded by the Writers' Trust of Canada. Her poem 'forgetting urdu' was the winner of Room magazine's 2016 Poetry Contest. Zehra holds an MSc in Migration Studies and an MSc in Social Anthropology from Oxford University. Prior to Oxford, she graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BA (Hons) in English and Creative Writing. Zehra is currently at work on her first book.
There is no cost to attend this event, and we hope that all will join us! If you would like to support The Rhodes Trust, please consider giving time through volunteering, or giving a gift to the Scholars Fund. A generous Scholar Alum is providing a matching fund of up to $200,000 USD, and Scholars making their first gift, or their first gift since 2016, will be matched 1:1. If you are interested in our volunteering opportunities, they can be found on our website.
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Q & A:
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