Campus Life

University of Lethbridge launches third annual edition of Common Book Project

As the University of Lethbridge’s School of Liberal Education kicked off the third annual Social Justice Symposium, it also launched its Common Book Project by introducing author Waubgeshig Rice’s novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow.

It is the third successive year of the Common Book Project, one of the first initiatives sparked by the School of Liberal Education when it was founded in July 2017. The project encourages all students, faculty, staff, alumni and interested community members to read a book chosen for current relevance. A number of courses will use the book as a required text, and book-club events will be held throughout the year.

“The School of Liberal Education was founded with the goal to promote a broad integrated education that develops in our students evidence-based reasoning skills and engaged citizenship,” says Dr. Shelly Wismath, dean. “This project embodies those ideals through a shared experience, and I encourage everyone to participate by reading the book.”

Anyone with a U of L ID can get free online access to the book through the U of L Library. Books are also available in the U of L Bookstore and Lethbridge Public Library.

The idea of having a group of students read and discuss a common book began with a One School One Book project in the United States in the early 2000s. The idea spread to Canada, and Lethbridge was actually the first place in the country to take up a similar project in 2007. This past spring, Lethbridge School District No. 51 introduced One District One Book, where all of its students, from kindergarten to grade 12, read the same book.

This year’s selection for the Common Book Project, Moon of the Crusted Snow, relates to Truth and Reconciliation Commission themes and contributes to Indigenization and reconciliation on campus.

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community and won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014. A graduate of Ryerson University’s journalism program, Rice has worked in a variety of news media since, reporting for CBC News for the bulk of his career. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling. He currently hosts Up North, CBC Radio’s afternoon show for Northern Ontario.

Rice will take part in the annual Word on the Street Festival on Saturday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside the Lethbridge Public Library’s main branch. He will do a reading at 3 p.m. and then sign copies of Moon of the Crusted Snow at 4 p.m.