Towards a Prairie Atonement

Reviewed by Joanne DeCosse

September 19, 2017

In this compact, politically charged book, writer, naturalist, and activist Trevor Herriot examines two centuries of Métis presence on the prairies. Often bordering on the poetic, Herriot’s language pulls the reader into the book’s prairie setting, where “the wind all around us was strung with the bells of chestnut-collared longspur song.”

It is on these very prairies that Métis communities developed their own sustainable community farming models. However, such ways of living were smothered when Métis families were dispossesed of their lands during settlement of the West.

Herriot traces the impact of Métis dispossession as well as subsequent colonial violence and development on the prairie ecosystem — where, as of 2014, more than forty wildlife species were at risk of extinction.

This impassioned book does more than simply relay historical information; it also offers a call to action: a call to recognize the value of Indigenous land-based knowledge, to develop and implement conservation methods on the prairies, and, in rebuilding these lands, to strive for reconciliation with contemporary Métis peoples.

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