Fight or Submit
Standing Tall in Two Worlds
by Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
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Pub Date 27 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2020
In the opening to his memoir, Grand Chief Ron Derrickson says his “story is not a litany of complaints but a list of battles” that he has fought. And he promises he will not be overly pious in his telling of them. “As a businessman,” he writes, “I like to give the straight goods.”
In Fight or Submit, Derrickson delivers on his promise and it turns out he has a hell of a story to tell. Born and raised in a tarpaper shack, he went on to become one of the most successful Indigenous businessmen in Canada. As a political leader, he served as Chief of the Westbank First Nation for a dozen years and was made a Grand Chief by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
Along the way, he has been the target of a full Royal Commission and an assassination attempt by a hitman hired by local whites. As Chief, he increased his community’s revenues by 3500% and led his people into a war in the forest over logging rights. In 2015, he became an award-winning author when Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, a book he co-authored with Arthur Manuel, won the Canadian History Association Literary Award. His second book co-authored with Manuel, Reconciliation Manifesto, won the B.C. Book Prize for non-fiction.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 2 members
Fight or Submit is the memoir of Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson of the Westbank First Nation. It’s an amazing story full of his accomplishments as a businessman, a leader/advocate for his people, and those who fought against him (including as assassination attempt). Derrickson writes in a very straightforward way, laying out all the facts and figures and everything he’s accomplished. It’s not a memoir I would commend for it’s flowery, poetic language. However, I think it’s a perfect reflection of who he seems to be as an Indigenous man with decades experience as a businessman and one who essentially goes to battle with the Canadian government many times over. And I’m glad to have read his story. It had me thinking about all the ways our peoples are fighting for land and treaty rights across North America right now. It’s an inspiring story, and great motivation to never give up the fight. Colonization is designed to beat us down and make us feel small, but this memoir felt like a call to recognize our value to our communities, the land, and what we are capable of.