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Note from the Editor
by Diana Kuprel

It is only natural that as this crisis-weary century gropes and stumbles its way to a close, and the new millennium "lurches to be born" that we take stock of the institutions that have helped to define our sense of ourselves as a nation and of the role we play in the international community. Over the last few years, it is our institutions of order in particular that have come increasingly under attack and shown themselves to be not quite as "pure-hearted" as we, in good but blind faith, presuppose. The APEC meeting in Vancouver, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Cambodia... these names-cum-labels hang over us like the sword of Damocles, revealing just how precarious is the sacrosanctity of order-keeping institutions like the RCMP and the United Nations.

Krzysztof Czyzewski uses the same strategy in his review as Robert Cohen in his reviewed book on the devastation in the former Yugoslavia: combining personal stories of ordinary lives torn apart by war with a passionate analysis of the international community's response, he discloses the veracity of Secretary General U Thant's critique of the UN-namely, that it "is an umbrella that comes down when it rains". Speaking from within the heart of Europe, Czyzewski provides an overview of the century-long teeter-totter of conflict and co-existence of different nationalities, and argues that the Bosnian War is ultimately a "ruthless test of humanitarianism", the last spiritual illusion of the twentieth century, and a mirror reflecting the hyprocrisy and moral failure of the UN and the Western world.

Canada has been involved in UN peacekeeping duties since Lester Pearson helped establish the first mission in the Suez. Here, Sandra Whitworth discusses Jocelyn Coulon's largely laudatory study of these missions, insisting on the need to critically interrogate them, and to honestly assess the social dislocation that results from the deployment of thousands of foreign personnel into fragile, strife-worn societies.

And Kevin Dwyer, himself a witness in the APEC proceedings, critiques Paul Palango's assessment of the Mounties as the last of our "noble" guardians in the latter's equation of the RCMP as a barometer of our state of confederation.

On a more celebratory and forward-looking note, in keeping with the spirit of Spring, we are pleased to present this year's shortlist for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, as well as the exquisitely chilling story by Lewis DeSoto which won the Writers' Union 1998 Short Prose Competition for New Writers. Both awards are designed to discover, encourage, and promote emerging talent in fiction and non-fiction-and as their prose works prove, these are the Canadian literary voices to watch for in the twenty-first century.

Diana Kuprel


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