Behind the man: John Laurie, Ruth Gorman, and the Indian vote in Canada

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University of Calgary Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 277 pages
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Behind the Man is the unique "biography" of Alberta political figure John Lee Laurie; one of Alberta's key proponents for Aboriginal franchise through the 1940s and 50s. Author Ruth Gorman worked closely with Laurie during these years and was a key figure in mobilizing and influencing public opinion in the province--this despite the social convention that women of this era remain in the shadows, dutifully taking the position of "the woman behind the man." Prior to 1961, the Aboriginal people of Canada could only vote in Federal elections if they agreed to become "Canadian," a requirement that stipulated they move away from their reserves, give up their treaty rights, and essentially leave behind their homes, farms, and families. John Laurie was instrumental in securing amendments to the 1961 Indian Act, removing once and for all any archaic impediments to enfranchisement, allowing finally the Aboriginals an unfettered vote. Out of modesty, Gorman herself did not lay claim to these efforts even though she worked as tirelessly and passionately as Laurie throughout the entire amendment process. Poring over the reams of personal documents while compiling her memoirs, Dr. Gorman saw the opportunity to tell her own story as well. Sadly, however, nearing the end of her life, and lacking the energy to finish the manuscript for publication, she turned to Dr. Pannekoek to sheperd the project to its completion. Subsequently, Behind the Man evolved to be as much biography as autobiography, providing readers with a fascinating and alternative perspective of these historical events. For example, while John Laurie officially and historically receives credit for securing the unfettered vote forAboriginals, he in fact had to be persuaded by Ruth Gorman herself that they were taking the right course of action. Behind the Man introduces Ruth Gorman as one of Alberta's most interesting female historical figures, a heroine struggling to balance home life and work obligations, overcoming frustrations at her hard work being overshadowed by a more visible figure, and reminding us that there is always more than one point of view when it comes to recording history.

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Contents

Acknowledgments
vii
Introduction by Frits Pannekoek
ix
Notes to Introduction
lii
Copyright

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