An indigenous story

Bill Waiser before a Prince Albert audience

One of the province’s most renowned historians was in Prince Albert Saturday to promote his latest book. It’s a synthesis of early Saskatchewan history that makes indigenous people actors in their own story, not part of the set.

A World We Have Lost begins with the first excursion a European made into what is now Saskatchewan: Henry Kelsey’s 1690 voyage from York Factory to the edge of the Great Plains. But Waiser said his book aims to study that history from a completely different perspective, that of the indigenous people who welcomed Kelsey into their world.

“I wanted to tell this story from the inside,” he said during a talk at the John M. Cuelenaere library. “Because when we talk about Saskatchewan before 1905 we talk about opening and development. Let’s turn that on its head, and look at it from the regional or internal perspective. So that’s the task I set myself.”

The book won the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction. Waiser views it as a prequel to his 2005 book Saskatchewan: A New History, which marks the centennial of the year we became a province. A World We Have Lost fills in the story up to that point, ending with the autonomy bills of 1905.

“I’ve kind of done a George Lucas,” he said. “Star Wars begins with Episode IV, so I’ve gone back.”

For more on this story, please see the Jan. 25 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.