Until age ten, Robert Calihoo was living in a respectable, middle-class Edmonton suburb as Robert Royer. Raised by his white, racist grandmother, he was unaware that his parents had abandoned him. After she died, Calihoo discovered he was an adopted Aboriginal. He connected with the father he had never met, Albert Calihoo, a Mohawk from Kahnawake, near Montreal, and he went to live with his natural Calihoo relatives on a Reservation. At age 16 he was arrested for joyriding in a vehicle that he had returned, and he served a one-year jail term. Alienated, he turned to criminal behaviour and joined the Indian Brotherhood movement. He read the Indian Act and became conversant in Aboriginal history and contemporary inequities. Robert Calihoo worked as manager for the Nimpkish Band Council at Alert Bay prior to publishing his memoir with Robert Hunter, Occupied Canada (1991), which earned a Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction in 1992. The biography doubles as a survey of social conditions for First Nations in Canada with particular emphasis on the Iroquois and the Iroquois League, thereby providing background information to understand the showdown at Oka. Hunter and Calihoo contend the relations between Aboriginals and the Canadian government has not been largely different from the relations between Aboriginals and the U.S. government. Although military force was used more overtly in the United States, the marginalization of Aboriginals in Canada by legislation and treaties has, according to the authors, produced much the same outcome.


Hunter, Robert & Robert Calihoo. Occupied Canada: A Young White Man Discovers His Unsuspected Past (M&S, 1991).

[BCBW 1992]