From the publisher: “Pennier offers thoughtful reflections on growing up as a non-status Aboriginal person on or near a Stó:lõ reserve, searching for work of all kinds during hard times as a young man, and working as a logger through the depression of the 1930s up to his retirement. Known only to a small local audience when it was first published in 1972, this expanded edition of Pennier’s autobiography provides poignant political commentary on issues of race, labour, and life through the eyes of a retired West Coast Native logger”
“Written in a punchy, anecdotal style, Hank’s autobiography explores the personal, social, and political complexities of being a ‘half-breed,’ an elastic racial categorization that brought with it dramatically different rights, opportunities, limitations, and dangers, depending on the context. ‘As we were half breeds and we could not live on the reservation, we were supposed to be white and we came under the white man’s status,’ Hank remarks in a subversively funny anecdote about going to residential school. ‘But the priests were very kind and they made an exception in our case’ (9–10).” – Source
I read this a few years ago, for another class, and I really enjoyed it, as well as the back story of how it came to be. I liked the anecdotal style of storytelling – it felt familiar and used the oral techniques that gives stories punch – emphasis, language, humour. It’s unusual in that it doesn’t jump around in timeline – Hank goes from beginning to end, but he does go on random jaunts of stories when he remembers something, which I like. It feels organic.
- “And all of us are half breeds. Not white men and not Indian yet we look Indian and everybody but Indians takes us for Indian. It has been a complicated world and in some ways it still is I guess. And the damn government hasn’t helped any” (4)
- “If I was smarter I would have listened a lot harder and learned a lot more but of course I was still quite young” (7)
- “I guess I haven’t told you any salmon fishing stories yet have I?” (38)
- “If I have any advice for people it is to do the best with what you got and the Lord will look after the details. I did and it looks like He did His part. And another advice is for the old timers. I would tell them to write it all down before they forget. Besides, it makes the days pass easier” (89)
buy the book: Call Me Hank