Mercury Series

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Choosing Buddhism

The Life Stories of Eight Canadians

Mauro Peressini

This book explores the experience of Canadians who chose to convert to Buddhism and to embrace its teachings and practices in their daily lives. It presents the life stories of eight Canadians who first encountered Buddhism between the late 1960s and the 1980s, and are now ordained or lay Buddhist teachers.

In recent census records, over 300,000 Canadians identified their religious affiliation as Buddhist. The great majority are of Asian origin and were born into Buddhist families or were Buddhist at the time of their arrival in Canada. Since the late 1960s, however, the number of Canadians converting to Buddhism has doubled every decade, and this demographic now includes more than 20,000 individuals. The eight Canadians whose life stories are featured in this book are among the very first to have chosen Buddhism. Their first-hand accounts shed light on why and how people convert to a religion from such distant shores. 

This book also offers contextual material (photos and texts) that complements the eight life stories. This material is meant to help readers enrich their understanding of the life stories by offering them the information they need to better grasp the meaning of the Buddhist notions mentioned, and the broader historical and spiritual contexts of the biographical accounts. 

While this book will be of interest to specialists because of the first-hand accounts, it is primarily aimed at a wider audience interested in Buddhism, religions or spirituality in general. It will also be of use to teachers whose courses touch upon any of these subjects. By combining life stories and contextual material, and placing an emphasis on the concrete experiences of Canadians with whom readers can identify, this book is an introduction to Buddhism and to what it means to lead a Buddhist life in contemporary Canada.

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Old Man’s Playing Ground

Gaming and Trade on the Plains/Plateau Frontier

Gabriel M. Yanicki

When Hudson’s Bay Company surveyor Peter Fidler made contact with the Ktunaxa at the Gap of the Oldman River in the winter of 1792, his Piikáni guides brought him to the river’s namesake. These were the playing grounds where Napi, or Old Man, taught the various nations how to play a game as a way of making peace. In the centuries since, travellers, adventurers, and scholars have recorded several accounts of Old Man’s Playing Ground and of the hoop-and-arrow game that was played there. These same stories continue to be told, demonstrating the site’s core significance in the sacred geography of First Nations in southern Alberta today.
In this work, oral tradition, history, and ethnography are brought together with a geomorphic assessment of the playing ground’s most probable location—a floodplain scoured and rebuilt by floodwaters of the Oldman—and the archaeology of adjacent prehistoric campsite DlPo-8. Taken together, the locale can be understood as a nexus for cultural interaction and trade, through the medium of gambling and games, on the natural frontier between peoples of the Interior Plateau and Northwest Plains.

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Petun to Wyandot

The Ontario Petun from the Sixteenth Century

Charles Garrad

In Petun to Wyandot, Charles Garrad draws upon five decades of research to tell the turbulent history of the Wyandot tribe, the First Nation once known as the Petun. Beginning with the tribe’s first encounters with French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1616 and extending to their eventual decline and dispersal, this book offers an account of this people from their own perspective and through the voices of the nations, tribes and individuals that surrounded them.
Through a cross-reference of views, including historical testimony from Jesuits priests, European explorers and fur traders, as well as neighbouring tribes and nations, Petun to Wyandot uncovers the Petun way of life by examining their culture, politics, trading arrangements and legends. Perhaps most valuable of all, it provides detailed archaeological evidence from the years of research undertaken by Garrad and his colleagues in the Petun Country, located in the Blue Mountains of Central Ontario. Along the way, the author provides a meticulous chronicle of the work by other historians and the theories regarding this little-understood people.

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Rewriting Marpole

The Path to Cultural Complexity in the Gulf of Georgia

Terence N. Clark

This book examines prehistoric culture change in the Gulf of Georgia region of the northwest coast of North America during the Locarno Beach (3500–1100 BP) and Marpole (2000–1100 BP) periods. The Marpole culture has traditionally been seen to possess all the traits associated with complex hunter-gatherers on the northwest coast (hereditary inequality, multi-family housing, storage-based economies, resource ownership, wealth accumulation, etc.) while the Locarno Beach culture has not. This research examined artifact and faunal assemblages as well as data for art and mortuary architecture from a total of 164 Gulf of Georgia archaeological site components. Geographic location and ethnographic language distribution were also compared to the archaeological data. Analysis was undertaken using Integrative Distance Analysis (IDA), a new statistical model developed in the course of this research. Results indicated that Marpole culture was not a regional phenomenon, but much more spatially and temporally discrete than previously thought. Artifactual assemblages identified as Marpole were restricted to the areas of the Fraser River, northern Gulf Islands and portions of Vancouver Island. In contrast, the ethnographic territory of the Straits Salish showed no sign of Marpole culture, but rather a presence of Late Locarno Beach culture. The pattern found in artifacts was replicated in the distribution of art and mortuary architecture variation suggesting the cultural differences between Marpole and Late Locarno Beach cultures was real and not merely a statistical anomaly.

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