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Harold Johnson

Harold R. Johnson is an author. One of his most recent works, Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours), was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan to a Swedish father and a Cree mother, he is a graduate of Harvard Law School and managed a private practice for several years before becoming a Crown prosecutor. Johnson is a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation and lives in the north end of Saskatchewan, with his wife, Joan.

Clifford: A Memoir, A Fiction, A Fantasy, A Thought Experiment
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

I open my eyes in the darkness, laying on my side, half my vision is of the earth and shadows; the other is of the sky, treetops, and stars. I should write Clifford’s story. The thought emerges fully formed . . . The thought dissipates. I close my eyes and the earth and the sky disappear. The warmth of my sleeping bag wraps around me and sleep pulls me under into that half-world where reality and fantasy mingle in a place where coherent thoughts disintegrate.

When Harold Johnson returns to his childhood home in a northern Saskatchewan Indigenous community for his brother Clifford’s funeral, the first thing his eyes fall on is a chair. It stands on three legs, the fourth broken off and missing. So begins a journey through the past, a retrieval of recollections that have too long sat dormant. Moving from the old family home to the log cabin, the garden, and finally settling deep in the forest surrounding the property, his mind circles back, shifting in time and space, weaving in and out of memories of his silent, powerful Swedish father; his formidable Cree mother, an expert trapper and a source of great strength; and his brother Clifford, a precocious young boy who is drawn to the mysterious workings of the universe.

As the night unfolds, memories of Clifford surface in Harold’s mind’s eye: teaching his younger brother how to tie his shoelaces; jousting on a bicycle without rubber wheels; building a motorcycle. Memory, fiction, and fantasy collide, and Clifford comes to life as the scientist he was meant to be, culminating in his discovery of the Grand Unified Theory.

Exquisitely crafted, funny, visionary, and wholly moving, Clifford is an extraordinary work for the way it defies strict category and embraces myriad forms of storytelling. To read it is to be immersed in a home, a family, a community, the wider world, the entire cosmos.

Reviews
“Clifford is a luminous, genre-bending memoir. Heartache and hardship are no match for the disarming whimsy, the layered storytelling shot through with love. The power of land, the pull of family, the turbulence of poverty are threads woven together with explorations of reality, tackling truth with a trickster slant.” — Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster

“Clifford is a story only Harold Johnson could tell. By turns soft and harsh, intellectual and emotional, Johnson weaves truth, fiction, science, and science fiction into a tapestry that is rich with meaning and maybes. A natural storyteller, Johnson seeks imagined pasts and futurity with equal parts longing and care. This work allows readers and writers the possibility of new and ancient modes of storytelling.” — Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie

“Harold R. Johnson is a wonderful writer, and Clifford is his best work yet. For fans of Jack Finney and Richard Matheson, this terrific book is a wonderfully human tale of memory both bitter and sweet, as well as a poignant exploration of time’s hold over all of us.” — Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award–winning author of Quantum Night

“Clifford is unlike anything I’ve read — it is at once a story of science and magic, love and loss, and a case for the infinite potential of humanity. It is a book of profound wisdom — an unpacking of the deepest truths of science in an effort to transform the pain of grief and regret into healing and forgiveness.” — Patti Laboucane-Benson, author of The Outside Circle

Educator Information
Curriculum Connections: English, Biographies, Family 

Additional Information
264 pages | 5.25" x 8.00"

 

 

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$22.95

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Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours)
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: University/College;

A passionate call to action, Firewater examines alcohol—its history, the myths surrounding it, and its devastating impact on Indigenous people.

Drawing on his years of experience as a Crown Prosecutor in Treaty 6 territory, Harold Johnson challenges readers to change the story we tell ourselves about the drink that goes by many names—booze, hooch, spirits, sauce, and the evocative “firewater.” Confronting the harmful stereotype of the “lazy, drunken Indian,” and rejecting medical, social, and psychological explanations of the roots of alcoholism, Johnson cries out for solutions, not diagnoses, and shows how alcohol continues to kill so many. Provocative, irreverent, and keenly aware of the power of stories, Firewater calls for people to make decisions about their communities and their lives on their own terms.

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$16.95

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Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: University/College;

An urgent, informed, intimate condemnation of the Canadian state and its failure to deliver justice to Indigenous people by national bestselling author and former Crown prosecutor Harold R. Johnson.

"The night of the decision in the Gerald Stanley trial for the murder of Colten Boushie, I received a text message from a retired provincial court judge. He was feeling ashamed for his time in a system that was so badly tilted. I too feel this way about my time as both defence counsel and as a Crown prosecutor; that I didn't have the courage to stand up in the courtroom and shout 'Enough is enough.' This book is my act of taking responsibility for what I did, for my actions and inactions." -- Harold R. Johnson

In early 2018, the failures of Canada's justice system were sharply and painfully revealed in the verdicts issued in the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. The outrage and confusion that followed those verdicts inspired former Crown prosecutor and bestselling author Harold R. Johnson to make the case against Canada for its failure to fulfill its duty under Treaty to effectively deliver justice to Indigenous people, worsening the situation and ensuring long-term damage to Indigenous communities.

In this direct, concise, and essential volume, Harold R. Johnson examines the justice system's failures to deliver "peace and good order" to Indigenous people. He explores the part that he understands himself to have played in that mismanagement, drawing on insights he has gained from the experience; insights into the roots and immediate effects of how the justice system has failed Indigenous people, in all the communities in which they live; and insights into the struggle for peace and good order for Indigenous people now.

Additional Information
160 pages | 5.00" x 7.50"

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$25.00

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Two Families: Treaties and Government
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);

Kiciwamanawak, my cousin: that is what my Elders said to call you. You have a treaty right to occupy and use this territory. You received that right when my family adopted yours.

So begins Harold Johnson's narrative on the relationship between First Nations, governments, and society in general. Writing in response to a student asking him what the treaties mean, Johnson presents a different view of the treaty relationship. Treaties were the instruments that gave Europeans the right to settle here, share resources, and build a relationship of equality with those who were here before. Johnson's ancestors did not intend the treaties to allow the subjugation and impoverishment of First Nations, or give settler governments the right to legislate every aspect of First Nations activities.

In an easy to read style, the author presents his eloquent view, on behalf of a people, on what treaties between First Nations and governments represent. Topics discussed include the justice system, reconciliation of laws, political divisions, resources, taxation, assimilation, leadership, sovereignty, the Constitution, youth, and relations between next generations. Two Families is a passionate plea for the restoration of harmony and equality between First Nations and the rest of Canadian society. It is a must read for everyone seeking to understand an Aboriginal perspective on treaties.

Harold Johnson practices law in La Ronge, northern Saskatchewan, and balances this with operating his family's traditional trap line using a dog team. He has served in the Canadian Navy, and worked in mining and logging before returning to school. He holds a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan and a master's degree in law from Harvard. He is also the author of two novels, Billy Tinker and Backtrack, both set in northern Saskatchewan against a background of traditional Cree mythology.

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$20.00

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Back Track
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);

Against a backdrop of traditional Cree mythology, Johnson's novel creates a tangled murder chronicle and harrowing tale of four Cree brothers, bound to each other through family and tradition, separated from each other by their chosen life paths. As one brother kills, another reinforces the principle of a circle of life, as one capitulates to weakness, another conquers his demons. Driving the action is a manhunt for the killer of conservation officers; but at the heart of the story there is reparation through cultural wisdom and the restoration of traditional beliefs.

Authentic and well-paced, Back Track crosscuts through the cultural ruts, economic conventions, and stereotypes of Cree families living in northern Saskatchewan.

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$16.95

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