4 out of 4 stars
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At the Mouth of a Cannon Conquest and Cupidity on Canada’s West Coast: A Personal Account by Kevin D. Annett is a heartbreaking non-fiction historical book about a very dark past of British Columbia in the hands of Christian missionaries. Through his own experiences, observation and testimonies from victims and survivors, Kevin D. Annett has dared to show how major Christian denominations managed to massacre the Ahousahts tribe of British Columbia. The book narrates how the Indians were mistreated in the name of Christian missions after Ahousahts were exterminated. The role Christian missionaries played in killing and grabbing the land that belonged to the natives of the West Coast of Canada is well told. These Christian missionaries are from the Catholic, Anglican and United Church of Canada denominations.
Throughout the seven chapters of the book, the author takes the reader through the schemes that the ‘trinity’ of the church, state and business used to deprive the Indians of their land, dignity and freedom. The majority of unlucky Indians either got killed or permanently disabled. As you read through the pages, for instance, you encounter how papal authority, through papal bulls legitimized genocide against Indians. A good example which the author gives is the Romanus Pontifex papal bull written in 1455 by Pope Nicholas V which permitted the ‘killing’ of non-Catholics. The Bible as well is misused. In the instances where the Bible seems insufficient, a redefining of terms is done to accommodate the insatiable nature of church to grab exceedingly. An example is the redefining of the term ‘genocide’, which makes it ambiguous in practice.
There are two elements that I liked most in this book. The use of memorable quotes is the first element. These quotes preceded the detailed content of each chapter. The quotes also appeared at the end of each chapter, which made it easier for me to appreciate the book. One evocative quote which struck me at the onset and which defined the mood and the spirit of the book is the Biblical quote from Deuteronomy chapter 7. Never in my weirdest imaginations had I ever thought that men of God would literally interpret this verse in an attempt to serve their own selfish interests. The second element is the end notes and the appendices which further validates the author’s historical account. This is an indicator that Kevin D. Annett did a professional job in publishing this book.
I have nothing against the content of the book since history can never be altered. However, the only element of the book that I liked least is the title of the book. In my opinion, the title does not seem to relate to the book content due to the choice of words. It appears to be misplaced. In a poignant historical non-fiction such as this one, the author could have done better by using common adjectives that evoke anger and bitterness. I found the term ‘cannon’ to be a relative word.
As a staunch follower of one of the named churches in this book, anger towards an imposed-Christianity was incensed by every page that I turned. The book gave me an impetus to critically question and examine what I have all along believed in my entire Christian life.
In this emotive book, I managed to spot only one typo error. I found the word ‘presbytery’ written missing one letter. This did not deter me from considering it as having been professionally written and edited. For this reason, I am rating it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to students of Missiology as well as political history. Christians who cherish their faith should however avoid reading this book. The book’s content has a potential of distracting them in their journey of faith.
At the Mouth of a Cannon
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