UWinnipeg’s Dr. Ryan Eyford (History) reveals that the timing and location of the Icelandic settlement was not accidental in his new book, White Settler Reserve: New Iceland and the Colonization of the Canadian West. He launches the book tomorrow, Friday, October 21, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue.
In 1875, the Canadian government created a reserve for Icelandic immigrants on the southwest shore of Lake Winnipeg. Hoping for a better life in Canada, many of the New Iceland colonists found only hardship, disappointment, or death. Those who survived scurvy and smallpox faced crop failure, internal dissension, and severe flooding. This book looks beyond the experiences of these Icelandic immigrants to understand the context into which their reserve fits within the history of settler colonialism.
Canadian leaders hoped that group settlements of immigrants on Indigenous lands would help realize their ambitious plans for western expansion. By juxtaposing the Icelanders’ experiences with those of the Cree, Ojibwe, and Métis people they displaced, Eyford makes clear the connections between immigrant resettlement and Indigenous displacement. He draws out the tensions that punctuated the process of colonization in western Canada and situates the region within the global history of colonialism.