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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Reader's Diary #1677- Nick Sibbeston: You Will Wear a White Shirt

I somewhat ashamedly admit to not having hear of, or at least not having paid attention to, Nick Sibbeston until 2015 when he published his autobiography You Will Wear a White Shirt: From the Northern Bush to the Halls of Power. This despite my having lived in the north for 13 years at that point.

Better late than ever, I've finally acquainted myself with the remarkable life of Mr. Sibbeston, former premier of the NWT, former Canadian senator, and residential school survivor.

An autobiography isn't always trustworthy of course (nor is a biography, for that matter), but he gained my trust somewhat by largely remaining humble and admitting to his flaws. That said, he still comes across as a determined man and someone who sticks to his convictions. I don't know that I'd have had the perseverance to keep failing English courses and redoing it over and over until I succeeded; to face depression, additions, and infidelity with lifelong faith and counseling; to overcome the abuse and neglect suffered at residential school.

Not to suggest that I agree with every action and opinion, but I did wind up quite admiring him. I particularly respected his dedication to preserving Dene culture.

It helps that his tone is conversational and filled with astute observations. That said, those outside the north may be somewhat bored with the more politics-heavy second half. Northerners will likely still find it a least a little interesting how many of the issues in Sibbeston's early career are still relevant today. I also found the East vs. West stories fascinating. I moved to the north a couple of years after Nunavut was officially formed so to hear of the challenges of the NWT when it still encompassed that larger area and unique Inuit culture was very revealing.

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