Before I knew it, New Star Books was on board, Sean had everything organized, and I found myself on a plane to Regina.
In Regina, I got a great tour of the city, including a visit to one of Canada's most beautiful legislatures (they have a table around which the Fathers of Confederation met during the 1864 Quebec Conference), courtesy of Bob and Brenda Watson. I finally met my hosts in person, Sean and his terrific family. Within minutes, his wife Jessica and I learned that we have a shared connection to Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, while Sean and I learned we have a mutual interest in craft beer and lengthy political conversation. Both Sean and Jessica have a way of making a total stranger feel like an old friend, and I had a wonderful time with them.
We had a good turnout at the Unitarian Centre for the event that night. I spent about half an hour at the podium discussing how Svend's legacy as a politican on the front lines is incomplete and how he also excelled at behind-the-scenes legislative work. I also addressed how Svend was unique not only in how he approached politics, but in which issues he chose to approach. This led to a discussion on different approaches to political change - how we can 'move the centre' in more ways than one. Lawyer Noah Evanchuk also spoke - his line about Svend, that it takes a special person to "play the role of Cassandra" - sums up much of the book beautifully.
I arrived in Saskatoon at about noon the next day and headed straight to the CTV studios for my first interview on live TV. I think it went well. I'd love to see it, although I gather that the footage (along with a taped interview on French CBC I'd done in Regina the day before) wasn't kept after being broadcast. But it was incredibly cool being in the studio, mic'ed up, seated on that fake living room set-up, a few feet away from the anchors as they joked between takes and became serious again just as the cameraman's countdown reached one.
I also got to meet Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau, guests immediately after me. If you haven't heard of them, I'll leave it to Wikipedia to explain.
In Saskatoon, I spoke at St. Thomas More College, touching on the same points I did in Regina. Former NDP MLA Peter Prebble, former NDP MP Ron Fisher, and Norman Zepp also spoke, sharing stories of working with Svend on environmental issues, his reputation in caucus, and the esteem with which he is held by LGBT activists.
I also got the opportunity to do some sightseeing in Saskatoon, and particularly enjoyed visiting Wanuskewin, site of two buffalo jumps and a 1500-year-old medicine wheel, where people have been gathering for over 6000 years. My hosts in Saskatoon were my good friend Alexis Normand and her sister, Elise. Like Sean and Jessica, they were generous hosts and excellent company. (If you don't know Alexis, she is also an enormously-talented singer and songwriter. Click on the link to hear some of her great work.)
I can't say enough about Sean Tucker and Tracey Mitchell, the organizer of the Saskatoon event. Their enthusiasm for the book, and the energy they put into making these events such as a sucess, has been beyond overwhelming. Their energy and commitment to causes they believe in is inspiring. I would like to thank them, as well as the University of Regina, and David McGrane and St. Thomas More College, for their sponsorship, Noah, Peter, Norman and Ron for speaking, Peter Garden and Turning the Tide bookstore for designing the poster and providing books, and Bob, Brenda, Alexis and Elise for showing me around their respective home towns.
I highly recommend a visit to the land of living skies. That slogan is no exaggeration, by the way. The way the sky is a feature of the landscape in Saskatchewan is unforgettable. So are the people.