Voices from Odeyak


230 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55021-070-X
DDC 333.7'2'09714111





Reviewed by Jean Manore

Jean Manore is a policy assistant at the Department of Native Affairs.


The Odeyak is a boat of strange configuration, part canoe, part kayak.
The Cree and Inuit of Hudson Bay built the Odeyak to protest
Hydro-Québec’s plans to generate more hydro electricity by damming
the Great Whale river. Hoping to preserve the Great Whale watershed and
their way of life, they paddled the Odeyak to the Hudson River and
delivered a straightforward message to the people of New England and New
York: buy no more power from Hydro-Québec. The voices of the Odeyak are
represented not only by the Cree and Inuit paddlers but also by their
supporters and friends, including Mohawks from Kahnawake; the strongest
voice is that of the author, Michael Posluns.

The first chapter discusses the arrival of the Odeyak in New York City
in time to celebrate Earth Day on April 23, 1990. The second chapter
takes the reader back in time to the northern Native communities before
the journey began. After that, we follow the Odeyak as it travels
through Ottawa, Montreal, Vermont, and New York, with each chapter
concentrating on the events that took place in each locale. The final
two chapters explain the moral and legal obligations non-Native people
owe to Native people, and to the environment. They are a plea to power
consumers to accept responsibility for the environment, even if the
damage occurs outside of their borders.

The one shortcoming of the book is its lack of detail. Posluns often
refers to speeches made by the Odeyak crew, but provides only brief
quotations from them, even though it was these speeches that moved the
people of Vermont and New York to reconsider their power options. This
book is nonetheless valuable to those interested in aboriginal issues,
hydroelectricity, and the environment.


Posluns, Michael., “Voices from Odeyak,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/13601.