I am passionate about writing, combining my rigorous academic training and research skills with a vivid and active imagination. Commercial writers like Neil Gaiman and Charles De Lint, Isabella Allende, Paulo Coleho, and Leslie Marmon Silko influence my fiction. I like to bur the line between fact and fiction, weaving the real together with the unreal; drawing deeply on my anthropological expertise and knowledge of cultural tropes, symbols, and mythologies. I’m deeply inspired by true events and themes around the spirit and mysteries of love, friendships and the greater powers and forces of the seen and unseen worlds.
As much as I enjoy writing creative fiction, I also write a significant amount of non-fiction; in fact I make a living writing non-fiction. Over the last 10 years I’ve published over 35 peer reviewed articles and professional reports. These cover a broad range of topics from historical anthropology and Aboriginal treaty rights, to the social impacts of major projects in Canada’s North. Almost all of these publications are based on original research.
Recent and Upcoming Publications
Forthcoming: Framing Sustainable Housing Options in Canada’s North (November 2012). This report contributes actionable insights into issues related to the affordability and availability of housing in northern Canada. It offers four unique case studies of tangible examples of successful and innovative northern housing initiatives across the country, as well as lessons learned from their implementation. It also explores some of the major policies and programs established and implemented across Canada since the mid 1900s to address the availability and affordability of adequate housing in the North. This report ultimately suggests that effective northern housing strategies require programs and policies that support and involve northerners, are respectful of and relevant to northern lifestyles and traditions, and are consistent with the long-term goals of sustainable development.
Forthcoming: Regional Nationalism or National Mobilization? A Brief Social History of the Development of Métis Political Organization in Canada, 1815-2011 (May 2013) in The Metis in Canada, University of Alberta Press. This chapter builds on Joe Sawchuk’s substantial contributions to the field of Métis studies and John Weinstein’s more current examination of Métis nationalism. It examines the relationship between the historic establishment and contemporary organization of Métis associations and their intensification during the late 1800s and early 1900s. I explore the development of Métis organizations in response to historical circumstances, cultural survival, and political necessity. I highlight the shift from early pre-confederation Nation-to-Nation Métis relations to relationships based on the framework of the Indian Act that begin to emerge during the mid-1800s. This was part of the jurisdictional framework of Indian policy in Upper and Lower Canada. And while early commissions and resulting legislation in Upper and Lower Canada differentiating the colonial government’s fiduciary obligations towards Métis and First Nations were not necessarily tangible in the Northwest, they provided the foundation for an emerging national Indian policy and “civilizing program” that for the most part excluded the recognition of Métis rights.
Resisting regulation: Conservation, control and controversy over Aboriginal land and resource rights in eastern Canada, 1880-1930 (2012) in International Journal of Canadian Studies Vol. 44. During the turn of the twentieth century, the land continued to provide the practical, historical, and spiritual basis of distinct cultural practices for Aboriginal peoples in eastern Canada. This was also a time of direct and often intense cultural assaults on Indigenous traditions by state conservation practices and discourses on game preservation. An analysis of historic Aboriginal assertions of sovereignty and effective control in eastern Canada during this period provides an important context that links the current day neo-liberal discourse on “minority rights” and the resulting paradigm of domestication with the Canadian state’s historic policies of aggressive civilization. This analysis ultimately argues that the historic and ongoing project of nation building in Canada is grounded in a complex nation-to-nation framework, with a long history of international diplomacy and good-governance practices that include the involvement of Aboriginal peoples in seeking positive and practical resolutions to their struggles with the state over their land and resource rights. Download it here.
A Redirection in Neo-Evolutionism?: A Retrospective Analysis of the Algonquin Family Hunting Territories Debate (2011) in Histories of Anthropology Annual Vol. 7. This article explores the intellectual networks and debates within anthropology that maintained considerable influence on the practical and theoretical aspects of Frank Speck’s intellectual development and the broader debates around the notion of Algonquian family hunting territories in anthropology. In particular I explore how the early debates around the family hunting territory concept reflect key redirections in neo-evolutionary theory during the 1930s and ultimately suggest a proleptic methodological modernism in anthropology. The result is a useful and engaged history of the development of the main arguments in the hunting territories debates from 1915 to 1939. Download here.
Striking a Balance: The impacts of major projects in the North (2011) reviews how stakeholders are trying to maximize the economic benefits of major natural resource projects in the North, while minimizing their social and environmental costs. It looks at the regulatory processes that aim to balance the costs and benefits and at innovative practices that are emerging to enhance the benefits of major resource projects while mitigating their negative impacts. Download it for free here
Raven’s Key: A Novel (2011) examines the ongoing and mythological tropes associated with shifts in human consciousness and the power of love to heal and affect change. The trope of 2012 as the next Armageddon inspired me to write this novel. I was fascinated by the reams of new age hipsters cashing in on the fear and insecurity of humans around the world. I’m also really fascinated by conspiracy theories and black-ops. I remember when Whitley Strieber first published Communion. That book had a deep and lasting impact on me. Not in a fearful way, but in a “conscious-seeker-of-the-unknown” kind of way. It sparked on ongoing fascination of the role of ETs in our collective consciousness. Raven’s Key explores some of these areas. The ideas for this novel started as images and eventually came out in the form of words and sentences. The message is a simple and resounding one: love conquers fear; something I’ve personally experienced and that people around the world are embracing in these crazy times. Download it for free here.
Tarantella: A Love Story (2011) is inspired by the true story of my grandfather, Arturo Pulla. I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather. He died tragically of a heart attack in his early 40s, before modern medical science had perfected triple-bypass open-heart surgery. As a child growing up, I used to listen to his brothers telling stories about Nonno Arturo. Tarantella: A Love Store is set in post-WWII Italy, in the small Molise village of Limosano. I took some creative license with the story, and added in a Canadian element-true to my status as an Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University. I had fun writing this book. It originally was written as a screen-play. I then turned the screenplay into a novella. It’s a fun, quick read, with a lot of historical elements and a dash of magic realism. Download it for free here.
Right now I have three manuscripts in various stages of development.
The first one is called The Calendar Killer. This novel examines the powers of stories and the act of story-telling as a vehicle of transformation and change. It’s set in the small town of Wakefield where I lived for 5 years. The main character works as an internet psychic and is directly descended from Louis Riel. When people in the town start to go missing, a skeptical young rookie cop decides to go out on a limb and hire him as a consultant to help solve the murder.
The second manuscript is inspired by a dream I had. Acadia tells the story of young French woman who falls in love with a young Mi’kmaq medicine man during the 18th century. It’s set amongst the tumultuous expulsion of the Acadians by the British. This story is an exploration of the strength of love across cultures and traditions –and explores the tensions between human love and spiritual love.
My last manuscript is called The Devil’s Doorway. This novel traces the genealogy of a young man amongst the backdrop of the Freemasons and its links between the present world economic crisis and the economic turmoil of the 1930s. The story of my Irish great-grandfather and his mysterious expulsion from the Freemasons in Canada during the 1930s inspire the plot for this novel. Sam was a man of deep integrity; and he was also a high-ranking Mason. Nobody can tell me why he was kicked out of the fraternity.
I am also working on an innovative and interactive e-textbook outlining various issues related to collaborative and participatory research methods.