ActiveHistory.ca is slowing down our publication schedule this summer, but we’ll be back with more new posts in September. In the meantime, we’re featuring posts from our archive. Thanks as always to our writers and readers!
The following post was originally featured on December 22, 2022. As the film Oppenheimer hits the big screen and renews discussion of Canada’s role in the Manhattan Project and the dawn of the nuclear, it is worth revisiting Sean Graham’s interview with Richard Van Camp, in which he discusses the legacy of uranium mining in the Northwest Territories.
Fort Smith, NWT is probably not where you would expect to find a suit of samurai armour and sword, but at the local museum that’s exactly what you can find. When he first saw it, author Richard Van Camp started to think about all the possibilities of how it got there. The result is A Blanket of Butterflies, which is the first volume of The Spirit of Denendeh. This beautiful new edition, illustrated in full colour for the first time, tells the story of a young Dene boy and his grandmother helping a Japanese man recover his grandfather’s armour. Through the story, Van Camp addresses questions of colonialism, knowledge transmission, and the complicated legacy of Second World War-era mining in the North.
Historical Headline of the Week
“Echoes of the Atomic Age: Cancer Kills Fourteen Aboriginal Uranium Workers,” Calgary Herald, March 14, 1998,
To learn more about Richard’s work, visit him at RichardVanCamp.com
You can watch A Village of Widows here.
Sean Graham is a media historian, an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca.