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Roy MacGregor

Toronto, Penguin Books Canada, 1989. 356pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-670-82735-5. (A Viking book). CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by Marc Shaw.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

In April 1971, Quebec premier Robert Bourassa announced his "project of the century " -- harnessing the waters of the James Bay watershed to provide enough hydroelectricity to satisfy the energy demands of the northeastern U.S. But forgotten amid all the statistics was the fact that the area in question was not an uninhabited wilderness, but home to several thousand Cree and Inuit who had lived there for thousands of years carrying on traditional pursuits of hunting, trapping and fishing.

These native people first learned from their radios of the government's intention to flood their lands! Central to this political storm was the imposing figure of Billy Diamond, the young chief of the Cree community of Rupert House. Diamond quickly became the focal point of the natives' struggle to gain control over their situation-a struggle that dragged on through years of court hearings, delays, and frustration with government and public indifference.

This book is the life story of Billy Diamond and his transition from trapper and hunter to power broker with strong connections at the Vatican and the UN. In later years, Diamond has emerged as something of a corporate whiz: he is president of Air Creebec and partner with Yamaha in a unique joint venture to manufacture a redesigned Hudson's Bay Company canoe.

Roy MacGregor's biography is a lengthy one and it is perhaps too dense, being packed with facts and figures and somewhat repetitive. In addition to a fairly complete bibliography, there are several pages of photographs and a map that puts both the area and the Agreement's land divisions into perspective.

Diamond is an important figure in recent Canadian history, and no doubt more will be heard from him in years to come. This book has its flaws, but it still merits a place in libraries across the country.

Marc Shaw, Kingston Learning Centre, Kingston, Ont.
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