The Comeback

2014 Penguin Books Published in Canada.


WHEN IT COMES TO ABORIGINAL PEOPLES, SYMPATHY FROM OUTSIDERS IS THE NEW FORM OF RACISM. It allows many of us to feel good about discounting their importance and the richness of their civilizations.

Sympathy is a way to deny our shared reality. Our shared responsibility. Sympathy obscures the central importance of rights.

If not sympathy, then what? In September 2013, in the Columbia River Basin, I listened to Kathryn Teneese, chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, explain that the first step is “recognition and acknowledgment.” Then we can work at our relationship “one step at a time – and gradually – find things we can do together.” In other words, “reconciliation” is not an event. It is not an apology, although an apology was necessary. And it is certainly not something so lacking in respect and dignity as sympathy. In any case, no solid relationship is possible so long as the Canadian government continues to rise in courtrooms and begin cases against the rights of Aboriginal nations by first arguing before the law that they do not exist as a people. This is our government. What could sympathy possibly mean if it is preceded by a denial of existence…. On the prairies there is an important piece of formal rhetoric: a question and an answer widely used in public meetings in order to remind everyone present of the reality in which they live.

“Who are the treaty people?”

“We are the treaty people.”

—from The Comeback


“Saul also argues that after Aboriginal peoples went from zero lawyers to two-thousand today, “as the Chiefs will tell you, since [the Canadian government] decided they were going to fight us tooth and nail in the courts on the treaties, we had to have lawyers. We could have had doctors. It was the government of Canada that forced us to have lawyers.” Interview. Cheryl McKenzie. APTN InFocus. November 27th, 2014. Click here to watch full interview


“The Comeback is a book that every Canadian should read. The book can assist in creating dialogue between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians within a context that is clear and creates a happy medium for all Canadians to start the dialogue our government is ignoring. This seems to be John Ralston Saul’s guide to creating reconciliation in this Canada.” Book Review. Jonathon Potskin. Muskrat Magazine. November 27th, 2014. Click here to read review


“We hear from John Ralston Saul on his new book The Comeback.” Radio interview. Monocle radio. November 12th, 2014. Click here to listen to Monocle radio’s interview with John Ralston Saul


“First Nations Empowerment: A call for support of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.” Click here to be re-directed to CTV News interview video clip


“John Ralston Saul: Sympathy for Aboriginal Peoples is not enough.” Click here to be re-directed to John Ralston Saul’s interview with CTV National News


“Saul calls the book a pamphlet, at 180 pages an afternoon read. Yet he pricks your conscience so much that you pause often and think long and hard about how we, as citizens, are complicit in Ottawa’s still colonial behaviour towards our indigenous peoples.” Column. Haroon Siddiqui. The Toronto Star. November 29th, 2014. Click here to read Haroon Siddiqui’s column


“His book also demonstrates that the First Nations have acquired a powerful new ally: the courts. Time after time, Saul shows, the Supreme Court and lower courts have sided with the First Nations when our governments have litigated against claims that their treaty rights have been abused, or ignored, or abrogated almost since the royal imprimatur was first attached.” Book Review. Robert Collison. The Toronto Star. November 21st, 2014. Click here to read review


“If the biggest favour one human being can do another is to speak the truth, especially when that truth is uncomfortable to hear, then Canadians probably owe John Ralston Saul a collective nod of thanks.” Article. Jim Coyle. The Toronto Star. October 26th, 2014. Click here to read article


“John Ralston Saul’s latest book, The Comeback, surges across the past two thousand years of history with scholastic ease, re framing some of the current Aboriginal debates through an inspired lens.” Book Review. Alexandra Shimo. The National Post. November 17th, 2014. Click here to read review


“The Comeback is short and clear – about 180 pages by Mr. Saul and 80 more of appended texts – meant to be read in an afternoon. The writing is interspersed with photos that buttress his argument, including those of several members of a new indigenous intelligentsia that emerged in the public discussion around Idle No More…” Interview. Joe Friesen. The Globe & Mail. October 31st, 2014. Click here to read interview


“He [John Ralston Saul] has written a powerful treatise that provides a fresh way to look at Canadian history. It’s important that native peoples have a writer of his heft in their corner.” – Lawrence Martin, The Globe and Mail. November 25, 2014. Column. Lawrence Martin. The Globe & Mail. November 25th, 2014. Click here to read Lawrence Martin’s column


“John Ralston Saul has reminded us again in his book The Comeback of a period of imperialist, racialized thought.” The Globe & Mail. Op-Ed. Hon. Bob Rae. The Globe & Mail. November 14th, 2014. Click here to read Hon. Bob Rae’s Globe Op-Ed


“He (John Ralston Saul) urges readers to create a new national narrative “built upon the centrality of the Aboriginal peoples’ past, present, and future,” and goes on to show how the first step is respecting the spirit of the treaties on which this country is built.” Book Review. Quill & Quire. November 2014. Click here to read Quill & Quire’s review of The Comeback


“Every Canadian should read The Comeback to better understand how voter complacency and emotions has enabled successive governments to prop up the colonial system since confederation, by dishonouring treaty obligations and circumventing court decisions that have repeatedly affirmed aboriginal rights and title.” Review. Kyle Carsten Wyatt. The Walrus. December 2014. Click here to read review


“Saul portrays a nation deliberately scorning self-knowledge by treating the aspirations of indigenous peoples with obstructionism and neglect.” Book review. Michael Dudley. The Winnipeg Free Press. November 8th, 2014. Click here to read review


The Comeback national book tour Globe & Mail poster with city stops:


Click here to watch CTV News interview – John Ralston Saul: “Sympathy for aboriginal issues is not enough:”



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