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Anthropologist delves into years of work with book reading at Sooke museum

Michael Robinson spent 40 years practicing anthropology
Michael Robinson is looking forward to sharing some stories from his latest book on a career in anthropology at a reading at the Sooke Region Museum on Saturday, April 6. (Contributed)

Having lunch with Russian submarine captains is the kind of topic that may come up when Michael Robinson shares stories from his latest book.

“You Have Been Referred - My Life in Applied Anthropology,” chronicles Robinson’s 40 years practicing anthropology with government and non-government organizations as a paid worker and volunteer. His efforts involved extensive work with Indigenous communities on the Northwest Coast, the Canadian Arctic, and the Murmansk Oblat (province) in Siberian Russia.

Robinson earned a degree in anthropology from the University of British Columbia before attending Oxford University in the United Kingdom as a Rhodes Scholar.

The lunch with 10 of the most powerful thermal-nuclear-powered submarine captains took place at a restaurant aptly called the Captain’s Nest while he was working in Russia, said Robinson, the author of seven books.

Another noteworthy connection to Russia was meeting former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev.

“Gorbachev had just retired and was putting together what became known as the Gorbachev Foundation, (a non-profit headquartered in Moscow),” explained Robinson, who also holds a law degree from UBC. “Gorbachev funded my research in Russia because he felt the work I was doing was important.”

A meeting with former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev and Optimal Living co-founder Karim Kassam may come up when Michael Robinson reads from his latest book at the Sooke Region Museum on Saturday, April 6. (Contributed)

Another highlight for Robinson is the 50 years of friendship forged with the Williams clan, the last Indigenous family to live in Yoquot, which Captain Cook called Friendly Cove after his visit in 1778 because of the welcoming nature of Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation.

“’You Have Been Referred’ is basically a memoir of a series of stories that were gifted to me through the course of my work,” Robinson said, regarding the book written and published during COVID. “I’m really looking forward to now getting the chance to talk about my 40 years in anthropology.”

There is no admission charge for the reading with Robinson, which place Saturday, April 6 at 3 p.m. at the Sooke Region Museum at 2070 Phillips Rd.

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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