To Mike and the Chinook List; Recent Newspaper Article On My "Mandela's Sash" Book
bobrockproductions at INET2000.COM
Wed Mar 3 02:49:03 UTC 1999
Dear Mike and the Chinook List:
I hope you don't mind if I post the following: a recent newspaper
article/review about my latest book/project. I'm still looking for a
publisher if anyone has any ideas. Thanks,
TAKEN FROM "SASKATCHEWAN SAGE: THE ABORIGINAL NEWSPAPER OF SASKATCHEWAN"
(A MONTHLY)--VOLUME 3: NUMBER 4: JANUARY, 1999
Page 2 --NEWS--
"Local Author Examines Metis Encounter With Mandela"
By Paul Barnsley (Sage Editor and Writer)
St. Louis, Sask.
"It was a moment for the ages when Metis Senator John B. Boucher tied a
sash around the waist of visiting South African President Nelson Mandela
on the morning of Sept. 24, 1998.
The man who spent more than 20 years as a political prisoner for his
actions in opposition to the South African apartheid regime and who
emerged from prison in the post-apartheid era to become the first black
man to serve as his country's president, wore the sash proudly for the
remainder of the day, much to the consternation of Canadian government
Now, a cousin of the Metis senator is preparing to tell the story in
great detail through a variety of media.
Bob Rock wrote, produced and directed 'The Missing Bell of Batoche.'
which earned him a national gold CANPRO award for the teleplay in 1997.
Rock is working furiously to get this latest story out to a world that
is intrigued, if a bit confused, by the meaning of Senator Boucher's
actions last September. In addition to a written manuscript, Rock is
also putting together a CD-ROM version for the Saskatchewan Department
of Education and he's working with a world-renowned animator to create
an animated version which may eventually make its way into theatres or
onto television airwaves.
Rock's manuscript captures with great precision the passion of the Metis
senator and the events of that autumn day in Ottawa. A mere 33,
single-spaced pages (or 18,000 words), it will be an emotional read for
Metis people and an education for others who aren't familiar with Metis
The manuscript begins with the author and the senator sitting around the
kitchen table in October, reflecting on the events of the previous
summer. From there the reader is given a step-by-step look at Boucher's
trip to Canada's capital city.
Senator Boucher was invited to Ottawa to represent his people at a
ceremony which would honour a Canadian human rights pioneer, John
Humphrey, who wrote the Universal Declaraction of Human Rights. While
spending the night before the ceremony at a government guest house,
Boucher said he dreamed of the importance of the next day for his
'I dreamt that Nelson Mandela and I were having coffee in my St. Louis
kitchen where I was telling him of the significance of the Metis sash
that I had just wrapped around his waist.' he told Rock. 'Mr. Mandela
sat there in rapt attention as I explained that the sash is an important
outward expression of Metis ethnicity and material culture.' '... In my
dream, Mr. Mandela just grinned and nodded in approval as I rambled on
about the significance of the Metis sash.'
Boucher recounts in detail his meeting with Mandela. He was just
supposed to present the sash to Mandela but he made up his mind to put
it around his waist.
'So I had to go over my time allotment to perform this ceremony
properly, the way it's supposed to be done. So I was introduced to
him. I shook hands with him. He shook hands with me. And I said, 'I
welcome you to Canada on behalf of the Metis National Senate, the Metis
leaders and all the Metis people of Canada, as one Aboriginal people to
another Aboriginal people.' And then I said, 'I have a presentation of
a Metis sash for you. The sash is given to special people as a symbol
of honour, pride and respect. Along with this sash, it is my privilege
and duty to bestow upon you an honourary Metis name. So if you would
allow me to put this sash around your waist, I will then present you
with your honourary Metis name.'
Mandela consented and then learned that his Metis name was 'Diamant.'
'Diamant means diamond in French. And the reason why I picked that name
for you is because you come from Africa and when we think of Africa we
think of diamonds. You have spread a very bright light, not only over
your own country, but over all of the world as well. What better
substance symbolizes the reflection of light than diamond? So your Metis
name will be Diamant.'
Mandela wore the sash when he addressed Parliament later that day and
still had it around his waist when he was inducted into the Order of
Canada. For Metis people, who have struggled long and hard for proper
recognition from the federal government, it was a moment of delicious
Senator Boucher says he and other Aboriginal leaders were intentionally
isolated from the press during the day, invited to participate but
carefully managed to avoid any chance of embarrassing the government.
The Metis leader also noted that he was not invited to the state dinner
that evening, something he believes was meant as a punishment for
putting the sash around Mandela's waist.
'Was it the federal government's way of getting back at me and the Metis
Nation for upstaging Mandela's Order of Canada presentation?' he asks in
But all in all, the day was a gratifying moment for Boucher.
'From that moment onward, I felt as if my life had been completed,' he
said. 'The accomplishments and awards and honours that I have earned
and been presented with prior to this point in my life, all combined
together, don't even come close to the sense of achievement that I
experienced that day in Ottawa.'
Rock sent 'Sage' a copy of the first draft of his book for review. We
are not certain when the book will be available for sale--but we
certainly do anticipate the highly enjoyable and thoroughly educational
More information about the Chinook