Announcement

UPDATED: Winter & Spring Workshop Preview

Our winter/spring season is packed with creative writing workshops, all of which are now open for registration. Click a workshop title or instructor photo for more detailsor to sign up now. (Seats will fill fast!)

All winter and spring workshops will be held via Zoom. You do not need a Zoom account to attend. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom and would like a preliminary introduction, here’s an overview of the platform.

The Two Voices of Memoir (with Donna Morrissey)

4-week workshop: Mondays, Jan 18, Jan 25, Feb 1, Feb 8 (6:30pm to 9pm)
Each of us has a story to tell. Connecting with our voice enables to write those stories with authenticity. This workshop focuses on the TWO voices of memoir: the narrator's and the character we become as we tell our stories. Equally important are the voices of our secondary characters—all voices help strengthen our narrators voice as we search back through the dark looking for the light.

Making Fact Read like Fiction (with Dean Jobb)

4-week workshop: Wednesdays, Jan 20, Jan 27, Feb 3, Feb 10 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
Bring a true story to life for readers using the storytelling techniques of fiction writers. Author and writing instructor Dean Jobb will lead an exploration of creative nonfiction. Write openings that immerse the reader in the story. Reconstruct scenes and events. Create memorable characters. Describe places and lost eras in vivid detail. And learn how to use online research tools and databases to find the facts needed to write compelling nonfiction.

First Words: Fiction (with Sherry D. Ramsey, Julian Mortimer Smith, & Sarah Mian)

9-week workshop: Thursdays, Jan 21, Jan 28, Feb 4, Feb 11, Feb 18, Feb 25, Mar 4, Mar 11, Mar 18 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
As a welcoming space for beginner or emerging writers, First Words: Fiction provides an overview of the craft from several professional perspectives. No prerequisites or pre-existing pieces of writing are necessary for participation in this course.

NEW: The Inner Critics’ Circle: How to Overcome Writers’ Block and Find Your Flow (with Virginia Konchan)

3-week workshop: Wednesdays, Jan 27, Feb 3, Feb 10 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
Whether you’re midstream in a writing project, unable to conclude, or can’t seem to begin, writers’ block is a paralyzing condition that most writers encounter at least once in their lives. This dynamic three-week workshop will address the psychological, emotional, and technical aspects of writer’s block (such as time and stress management). Through structured writing exercises, diverse readings of poetry and literature, and tools and approaches both visionary & practical, we’ll work to overcome whatever has stymied your writing.

YA (with Andre Fenton)

4-week workshop: Mondays, Feb 1, Feb 8, Feb 15, Feb 22 (6:00pm to 8:00pm)
Dive into the world of young adult fiction: focus on character development, setting, structure, and plot-driven motivations while creating unforgettable moments and memorable characters. Participants will share their progress with one another in an open and honest environment that embraces creativity with fun activities and through a new creative lens.

NEW: Creative Writing for Newcomers (With Anne C. Kelly)

Registration for this FREE workshop is open to all newcomers to Canada.
4-week workshop: Saturdays, Feb 6, Feb 13, Feb 20, Feb 27 (9:30am to 11:30am)

Are you a newcomer to Canada with a story you want to share? Do you want to develop and strengthen your creative writing skills? Join Anne C. Kelly for this four-week course to build basic English writing skills and explore the principles of creative writing. The course will include writing exercises, sharing with other learners, and a chance to create and edit the story you want to tell.

Contemplative Writing: Breathe, Stretch, and Write (with Sheree Fitch)

4-week workshop: Mondays, Feb 22, Mar 1, Mar 8, Mar 15 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
With poetry and prose prompts, Sheree will guide participants in first-burst writing activities and in using these activities as a point of departure for new work or works-in-progress. There will also be discussion of writing as a spiritual practice.

Split, Float, Scatter, Trace: poetry workshop (with Anne Simpson)

4-week workshop: Wednesdays, Feb 24, Mar 3, Mar 10, Mar 17 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
We will consider one of four words—split, float, scatter, and trace—in each of the workshop sessions to understand how content and form come together in the making of a poem. We will look at the work of other poets, but we will concentrate first and foremost on the playful writing and shaping of new work.

NEW DATES: Writing for Children and Youth (with Sylvia Gunnery)

4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Mar 2, Mar 9, Mar 23, Mar 30 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
Develop your unique voice in writing for children and youth in this four-part workshop. Through focused activities and group discussion, you will reflect on all stages of the writing process as you create setting, characters, dialogue, storyline, and structure. There will be opportunities to share draft writing, chat about books by your favourite authors, and consider how to move successfully toward publication.

NEW: Let’s Create Stories Together (with Theresa Meuse)

Registration for this FREE workshop is open to Indigenous participants only.
4-week workshop: Saturdays, Mar 6, Mar 13, Mar 20, Mar 27 (11:00am to 12:00pm)

This Saturday morning workshop, designed especially for Indigenous children ages 7 to 12, will encourage children to their own stories and get them down on paper. Hour-long sessions held on Zoom will take the form of sharing circles, so children can share stories, brainstorm ideas, talk about inspiration, and get feedback on written work. Participants in the workshop will receive a package of books by Mi’kmaq authors, including L’Nuk: The People by Theresa Meuse, I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas, and Wolverine and Little Thunder by Alan Syliboy.

Sorting Fact from Fiction: How to Get and Verify Information for your Non-Fiction Work (with Joan Baxter)

4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Mar 9, Mar 16, Mar 23, Mar 30 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
In this age of social media, when it is becoming ever more difficult to sort fact from fanciful fiction, the importance of well-researched non-fiction writing has never been greater. But where and to whom does one go to get facts, what are some of the most important and reliable sources of information for non-fiction writers? Let the treasure hunt begin—with practical activities, shared ideas, tips and experiences, and group discussions about how best to collect, verify and then sort through all that information that goes into a non-fiction book.

Who are these people and what is happening to them?: Character and Plot in Short Fiction (with Alexander McLeod)

4-week workshop: Wednesdays, Mar 17, Mar 24, Mar 31, Apr 7 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
This workshop explores the vital interdependence of plot and character and asks us to think deeply about the way characters are produced and/or revealed by what happens to them. Using some key exercises and working with examples selected from the participants own work, we will try to reflect on the way these two narrative elements can be strategically combined to produce powerful and memorable scenes. We will also try to branch out a bit to see how, especially in short fiction, good characters and good plotting absolutely require key contributions from the more poetic elements of our writing such as pacing, tone, rhythm, diction, imagery and sentence structure. Who are these people and what is happening to them? What does their story sound like? How does it “go”?

Writing YA Mysteries and Thrillers (with Jo Treggiari)

4-week workshop: Mondays, Mar 29, Apr 5, Apr 12, Apr 19 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
Learn how to craft page-turning mysteries and thrillers for the young adult audience using techniques like plotting backwards, building suspense, giving your characters agency, motives and motivation, utilizing red herrings, plot twists, clues and reveals for maximum impact, and incorporating an emotional or coming-of-age change in your main character's arc.

NEW: First Words: Poetry (with Andy Verboom, Lucas Crawford, & Shannon Webb-Campbell)

9-week workshop: Thursdays, Apr 1, Apr 8, Apr 15, Apr 22, Apr 29, May 6, May 13, May 20, May 27 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
As a welcoming space for beginner or emerging writers, First Words: Poetry provides an overview of the craft from several professional perspectives. No prerequisites or pre-existing pieces of writing are necessary for participation in this course.

Storytelling (with shalan joudry)

Registration for this FREE workshop is open to Indigenous participants only.
4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Apr 6, Apr 13, Apr 20, Apr 27 (6:30pm to 8:30pm)

In a time when so many of us are working to reclaim our Indigenous methodologies, shalan joudry feels that it’s imperative that we practice oral storytelling and deep listening to oral story. Through this 4-week workshop series, she will work with Indigenous writers, storytellers, poets and other narrative crafters to share about her experiences, tips, tools, and philosophy about storytelling. Shalan will share her background in this art form, why and how she turned to oral storytelling, but also discuss the importance and role of written work. Weaving between conversation and times for activities/exercises, participants are also encouraged to bring paper and a pencil to the sessions.

The Plot Thickens: Crafting a Compelling Romance (with Paula Altenburg)

5-week workshop: Mondays, Apr 26, May 3, May 10, May 17, May 31 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
In this five-week workshop, we’ll explore the romance genre and the tools required to finish a viable story. There will be an introduction to basic writing tools and techniques you’ll need to get started, as well as an overview on the three-act structure. A bibliography of the resources used by the instructor will be included.

NEW: Masterclass on Revision (with Carol Bruneau)

4-week workshop: Wednesdays, May 5, May 12, May 19, May 26 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
Join award-winning author Carol Bruneau to work through the fears and dread of revising fiction to see the rewards of the process. We’ll work on fine-tuning key elements of a story — character development, plot and structure, dialogue and setting — to best convey its central meaning. We’ll strengthen scenes, improve pacing, and decide when to cut and when to add information — all to create a cohesive, propulsive read that’s satisfying from beginning to end. In other words, you’ll learn how to make your long or short fiction the very best it can be.

Indigenous Writers – A Reading List

On October 28, 2020, Andrea Currie, Billy Lewis, Theresa Meuse, Shannon Webb-Campbell, and moderator Raymond Sewell shared their top picks of books by Indigenous writers to read, enjoy, and learn from. Recommendations included fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, and other genres and media (ranging from historical documents to podcasts).

The Indigenous Writers to Read Right Now panel was free to attend. It was co-presented with the Elders in Residence Program at Dalhousie University.

Click on a genre above to jump to those recommendations.
Click on a book title or cover to purchase it from its publisher.

Fiction

YA fiction - The Marrow Thieves (Cherie Dimaline)

The Marrow Thieves (Cormorant Books, 2017)

by Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline's young adult novel is set in a dystopian future where Indigenous people are being hunted for their bone marrow.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Fiction - Empire of the Wild (Cherie Dimaline)

Empire of Wild (Random House of Canada, 2019)

by Cherie Dimaline

Inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou--a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities--Cherie Dimaline has created a propulsive, stunning and sensuous novel.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Fiction - Tracks (Louise Erdrich)

Tracks (HarperCollins, 1998)

by Louise Erdrich

Tracks is the third in a tetralogy of novels beginning with Love Medicine that explores the interrelated lives of four Anishinaabe families living on an Indian reservation near the fictional town of Argus, North Dakota.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Fiction - The Round House (Louise Erdrich)

The Round House (HarperCollins, 2012)

by Louise Erdrich

With The Round House, Erdrich transports readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Fiction - Indians on Vacation (Thomas King)

Indians on Vacation (HarperCollins, 2020)

by Thomas King

By turns witty, sly and poignant, this is the unforgettable tale of one couple's holiday trip to Europe, where their wanderings through its famous capitals reveal a complicated history, both personal and political.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Fiction - Thomas King

the novels of Thomas King

Thomas King is one of Canada’s premier Native public intellectuals and is the best-selling award-winning author of six novels, two collections of short stories and two non-fiction books. He won the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Literature for his novel, The Back of the Turtle (Harper Collins, 2014).

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Fiction - The Way to Rainy Mountain (N Scott Momaday)

The Way to Rainy Mountain (U of New Mexico Press, 1976)

by N. Scott Momaday

"The stories in The Way to Rainy Mountain are told in three voices. The first voice is the voice of my father, the ancestral voice, and the voice of the Kiowa oral tradition. The second is the voice of historical commentary. And the third is that of personal reminiscence, my own voice. There is a turning and returning of myth, history, and memoir throughout, a narrative wheel that is as sacred as language itself."

(Recommended by Raymond Sewell)

Fiction - Islands of Decolonial Love (Leanne Betasamosake Simpson)

Islands of Decolonial Love (ARP Books, 2013)

by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

In her debut collection of short stories, Islands of Decolonial Love, renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation. Found on reserves, in cities and small towns, in bars and curling rinks, canoes and community centres, doctor’s offices and pickup trucks, Simpson's characters confront the often heartbreaking challenge of pairing the desire to live loving and observant lives with a constant struggle to simply survive the historical and ongoing injustices of racism and colonialism.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Fiction - Johnny Appleseed (Joshua Whitehead)

Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018)

by Joshua Whitehead

Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the "rez"--and his former life--to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The seven days that follow are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny's life is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages--and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Non-fiction

Non-fiction - The Reconciliation Manifesto (Arthur Manuel and Ronald Derrickson)

The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy (Lorimer, 2017)

by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson

Manuel and Derrickson show how governments are attempting to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples without touching the basic colonial structures that dominate and distort the relationship. They review the current state of land claims. They tackle the persistence of racism among non-Indigenous people and institutions. They celebrate Indigenous Rights Movements while decrying the role of government-funded organizations like the Assembly of First Nations. They document the federal government's disregard for the substance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while claiming to implement it. These circumstances amount to what they see as a false reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Non-fiction - Native Science (Gregory Cajete)

Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (Clear Light Books, 1999) [out of print]

by Gregory Cajete

In Native Science, Gregory Cajete "tells the story" of Indigenous science as a way of understanding, experiencing, and feeling the natural world. He points to parallels and differences between the Indigenous science and Western science paradigms, with special emphasis on environmental / ecological studies. After discussing philosophical foundations, Cajete addresses such topics as history and myth, primal elements, social ecology, animals in myth and reality, plants and human health, and cosmology and astronomy.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Non-fiction - Halfbreed (Maria Campbell)

Halfbreed (McClelland & Stewart, 1973)

by Maria Campbell

An unflinchingly honest memoir of her experience as a Métis woman in Canada, Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed depicts the realities that she endured and, above all, overcame. Maria was born in Northern Saskatchewan, her father the grandson of a Scottish businessman and Métis woman–a niece of Gabriel Dumont whose family fought alongside Riel and Dumont in the 1885 Rebellion; her mother the daughter of a Cree woman and French-American man. This extraordinary account, originally published in 1973, bravely explores the poverty, oppression, alcoholism, addiction, and tragedy Maria endured throughout her childhood and into her early adult life, underscored by living in the margins of a country pervaded by hatred, discrimination, and mistrust.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Non-fiction - A Mind Spread Out on the Ground (Alicia Elliott)

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground (Anchor Canada, 2020)

by Alicia Elliott

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Non-fiction - Songs of Rita Joe - Autobiography of a Mi’kmaq Poet (Rita Joe)

Songs of Rita Joe: Autobiography of a Mi’kmaq Poet (U of Nebraska Press, 1996)

by Rita Joe

The story of an esteemed and eloquent Mi’kmaq woman whose message of “gentle persuasion” has enriched the life of a nation.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Non-fiction - Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Daniel Heath Justice)

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018)

by Daniel Heath Justice

This provocative volume challenges readers to critically consider and rethink their assumptions about Indigenous literature, history, and politics while never forgetting the emotional connections of our shared humanity and the power of story to effect personal and social change. Written with a generalist reader firmly in mind, but addressing issues of interest to specialists in the field, this book welcomes new audiences to Indigenous literary studies while offering more seasoned readers a renewed appreciation for these transformative literary traditions.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Non-fiction - The Inconvenient Indian (Thomas King)

The Inconvenient Indian (Penguin Random House, 2013)

by Thomas King

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, The Inconvenient Indian distills the insights gleaned from Thomas King's critical and personal meditation on what it means to be "Indian" in North America, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis and Andrea Currie)

Non-fiction - Out of the Depths (Isabelle Knockwood)

Out of the Depths: Experiences of Mi’kmaq Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia (Fernwood Publishing, 2015)

by Isabelle Knockwood

Residential school survivor Isabelle Knockwood offers the firsthand experiences of 42 survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. In the fourth edition of this book, Knockwood connects with 21 survivors of the Shubenacadie school following the apology by the Canadian government in 2008.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Non-fiction - Heart Berries (Terese Marie Mailhot)

Heart Berries (Doubleday Canada, 2018)

by Therese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Non-fiction - We Were Not the Savages (Daniel Paul)

We Were Not the Savages (Fernwood Publishing, 2008)

by Daniel Paul

An Indigenous perspective on the collision between European and Native American civilizations.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse and Andrea Currie)

Non-fiction - Black Water (David A Robertson)

Black Water (HarperCollins, 2020)

by David Robertson

Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Non-fiction - The Language of this Land, Mi'kma'ki (Trudy Sable and Bernie Francis)

The Language of This Land, Mi’kma’ki (Cape Breton UP, 2012)

by Trudy Sable and Bernie Francis

An exploration of Mi’kmaw world view as expressed in language, legends, song and dance. Using imagery as codes, these include not only place names and geologic history, but act as maps of the landscape. Sable and Francis illustrate the fluid nature of reality inherent in its expression – its embodiment in networks of relationships with the landscape integral to the cultural psyche and spirituality of the Mi’kmaq.

(Recommended by Raymond Sewell)

Non-fiction - There's Something in the Water (Ingrid R B Waldron)

There’s Something in the Water (Fernwood Publishing, 2018)

by Ingrid R.G. Waldron

In “There’s Something In The Water”, Ingrid R. G. Waldron examines the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts in Indigenous and Black communities in Canada, using Nova Scotia as a case study, and the grassroots resistance activities by Indigenous and Black communities against the pollution and poisoning of their communities.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Non-fiction - The Book of Hopi (Frank Waters)

The Book of Hopi (Penguin Books, 1977) [out of print]

by Frank Waters; illustrated by Oswald White Bear Frederick

In this "strange and wonderful book," some thirty elders of the ancient Hopi tribe of Northern Arizona freely reveal for the first time in written form the Hopi world-view of life. The Hopis have kept this view a secret for countless generations, and this book was made possible only as a result of their desire to record for future generations the principles of their "Road of Life." The breaking of the Hopi silence is significant and fascinating because for the first time anthropologists, ethnologists, and everyone interested in the field of Indian study have been given rich material showing the Hopi legends, the meaning of their religious rituals and ceremonies, and the beauty of a conception of life within the natural world that is completely untouched by materialistic worlds.

(Recommended by Raymond Sewell)

Non-fiction - The Elements of Indigenous Style (by Gregory Younging)

The Elements of Indigenous Style (Brush Education, 2018)

by Gregory Younging

Elements of Indigenous Style offers Indigenous writers and editors—and everyone creating works about Indigenous Peoples—the first published guide to common questions and issues of style and process. Everyone working in words or other media needs to read this important new reference, and to keep it nearby while they’re working.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry

Poetry - The Wound is a World (Billy-Ray Belcourt)

This Wound is a World (Frontenac House, 2017)

by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to 'cut a hole in the sky to world inside.' Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems and essays upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where 'everyone is at least a little gay.'”

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell and Andrea Currie)

Poetry - Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (Liz Howard)

Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (McClelland & Stewart, 2015)

by Liz Howard

In Liz Howard’s wild, scintillating debut, the mechanisms we use to make sense of our worlds – even our direct intimate experiences of it – come under constant scrutiny and a pressure that feels like love. What Howard can accomplish with language strikes us as electric, a kind of alchemy of perception and catastrophe, fidelity and apocalypse. The waters of Northern Ontario shield country are the toxic origin and an image of potential. A subject, a woman, a consumer, a polluter; an erotic force, a confused brilliance, a very necessary form of urgency – all are loosely tethered together and made somehow to resonate with our own devotions and fears; made “to be small and dreaming parallel / to ceremony and decay.” Liz Howard is what contemporary poetry needs right now.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry - Lnu and Indians We're Called (Rita Joe)

Lnu and Indians We’re Called (Women’s Press, 1991) [out of print]

by Rita Joe

With this collection, celebrated poet Rita Joe expands upon her desire to communicate gently with the Mi’kmaw people, and reach out to the wider community of Canadians.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Poetry - The Blind Man's Eyes (Rita Joe)

The Blind Man’s Eyes (Cape Breton Books, 2015)

by Rita Joe

A committed social activist, rooted in First Nation and Christian spirituality, Rita Joe’s efforts to represent and inspire have earned her honorary degrees, the Aboriginal Achievement Award, and the Order of Canada. Rita Joe’s role as a daring “gentle warrior” shines through the poetry of The Blind Man’s Eyes.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Poetry - Flint and Feather (E. Pauline Johnson)

Flint and Feather (first published in 1912)

by E. Pauline Johnson

This volume contains Johnson's collected poems, and it is doubtful if any other volume of Canadian poetry has ever had so glowing a reception or so widely sustained and continuous an appeal.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry - Generations Emerging (Shalan Joudry)

Generations Re-merging (Gaspereau Press, 2014)

by Shalan Joudry

A collection of poems which explores the complex tangle of intergenerational relationships and cultural issues encountered by a Mi’kmaw woman in the modern context, “where every moment / is the loss of something.”

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Poetry - Waking Ground (Shalan Joudry)

Waking Ground (Gaspereau Press, 2020)

by Shalan Joudry

Waking Ground connects the social and ecological challenges our communities face with the unresolved legacy of Canada’s settlement and its ongoing impact on the lives of Indigenous people. Attuned to language, landscape, and legacy, Shalan Joudry’s insightful and candid poems bring forward stories that speak to the resilience of Mi’kmaw culture and the collective work of healing and reconciliation that lies before us all.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry - Hope Matters (Maracle, Bobb, Carter)

Hope Matters (Book*hug Press, 2019)

by Lee Maracle, Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter

The wide-ranging poems in Hope Matters focus on the journey of Indigenous peoples from colonial beginnings to reconciliation. But they also document a very personal journey—that of a mother and her two daughters. Written collaboratively, Hope Matters offers a blend of three distinct and exciting voices that come together in a shared song of hope and reconciliation.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry - Clay Pots and Bones (Lindsay Marshall)

Clay Pots and Bones (Cape Breton University Press, 2014)

by Lindsay Marshall

Poetry is Lindsay Marshall’s way of telling stories, of speaking with others about things that matter to him. His heritage. His people. His life as a Mi’kmaw. For the reader, Clay Pots and Bones is a colourful journey from early days, when the People of the Dawn understood, interacted with and roamed the land freely, to the turbulent present and the uncertain future where Marshall envisions a rebirth of the Mi’kmaq. The poetry challenges and enlightens. It will, most certainly, entertain.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

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Inquiries (Breakwater Books, 2019)

by Michelle Porter

In poems that risk the comingling of anger and elegy, poetry and documentation, humour and the dark spectre of poverty, Michelle Porter’s Inquiries oscillates at its edges, and amplifies the presence of human strength as it keeps company with our enigmatic and ever-present nemeses. This is a startling debut where the line between reality and reality television blurs, where a simple trip to the grocery store unifies mother and daughter in struggle, and where an economics of iniquity proves the existence of love as equality. With wit, poise, raw emotion, and versatility, Inquiries announces the emergence of an impressive new talent.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry - Noopiming - The Cure for White Ladies (Leanne Betasamosake Simpson)

Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies (House of Anansi, 2020)

by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Award-winning Nishnaabeg writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson returns with a bold reimagining of the novel that combines narrative and poetic fragments through a careful and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Poetry - Kiskajeyi - I Am Ready (Michelle Sylliboy)

Kiskajeyi — I Am Ready (Rebel Mountain Press, 2019)

by Michelle Sylliboy

This hieroglyphic poetry book is the first of its kind. Aboriginal artist and writer, Michelle Sylliboy blends her poetry, photography, and Mi'kmaq (L'nuk) hieroglyphic poetry in this unprecedented book.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Poetry - Disintegrate Dissociate (Arielle Twist)

Disintegrate/Dissociate (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019)

by Arielle Twist

In her powerful debut collection of poetry, Arielle Twist unravels the complexities of human relationships after death and metamorphosis. In these spare yet powerful poems, she explores, with both rage and tenderness, the parameters of grief, trauma, displacement, and identity. Weaving together a past made murky by uncertainty and a present which exists in multitudes, Arielle Twist poetically navigates through what it means to be an Indigenous trans woman, discovering the possibilities of a hopeful future and a transcendent, beautiful path to regaining softness.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Poetry - Crow Gulch (Douglas Walbourne-Gough)

Crow Gulch (Goose Lane, 2019)

by Douglas Walbourne-Gough

From the author: “I cannot let the story of Crow Gulch—the story of my family and, subsequently, my own story—go untold. This book is my attempt to resurrect dialogue and story, to honour who and where I come from, to remind Corner Brook of the glaring omission in its social history.”

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Children's Literature

Child lit - Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters (Harris, Marshall, and Marshall)

Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters (Cape Breton Books, 2011)

by Prune Harris, Lilian Marshall, Murdena Marshall; illustrated by Cheryl Bartlett

The story of Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters is a very old Mi'kmaw legend. It happens in the North Sky as the stars that show the story of Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters move around Tatapn, the North Star.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Child lit - How the Cougar Came to be Called the Ghost Cat (Michael James Isaac)

How the Cougar Came to be Called the Ghost Cat/Ta’n Petalu Telui’tut Skite’kmujewe (Roseway, 2010)

by Michael James Isaac

This is the tale of a young cougar, Ajig, who makes this sacrifice – and pays dearly. A curious and adventurous cougar, Ajig decides to build a new home in a strange forest. When he finds that all of the animals in the forest are afraid of him, Ajig agrees to stop behaving like a cougar so that he can make friends. But when Ajig tries to return to his birthplace, he learns that he is no longer welcome. Lost between two worlds, the young cougar becomes a “ghost cat.” This beautifully illustrated book, written in both Mi’kmaw and English, reflects the experiences of First Nations peoples’ assimilation into the Euro-Canadian school system, but speaks to everyone who is marginalized or at risk.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Child lit - For the Children (Rita Joe)

For the Children (Breton Books, 2008)

by Rita Joe

With the young person in mind, these strong, clear and encouraging poems from Rita Joe speak directly to all of us, a testament to her hope for a better world. Down-to-earth and often humorous, these poems tell stories of Mi'kmaw life, and of the concrete and spiritual world of this determined Eskasoni writer.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Child lit - I Lost My Talk (Rita Joe)

I Lost My Talk (Nimbus Publishing, 2019)

by Rita Joe

One of Rita Joe’s most influential poems, “I Lost My Talk” tells the revered Mi’kmaw Elder’s childhood story of losing her language while a resident of the residential school in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Child lit - The Sharing Circle (Theresa Meuse)

The Sharing Circle (Nimbus Publishing, 2003)

by Theresa Meuse

The Sharing Circle includes seven children's stories about First Nations culture and spirituality practices. All seven stories—The Eagle Feather, The Dream Catcher, The Sacred Herbs, The Talking Circle, The Medicine Wheel, The Drum, and The Medicine Pouch—explore First Nations cultural practices and teach children about Mi'kmaq beliefs and heritage.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Child lit - L’nuk, the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada (Theresa Meuse)

L’nu'k: The People (Nimbus Publishing, 2016)

by Theresa Meuse

In L’nu'k: The People, Theresa Meuse traces the incredible lineage of today’s Mi’kmaq people, sharing the fascinating details behind their customs, traditions, and history. Discover the proper way to make Luski (Mi’kmaw bread), the technique required for intricate quillwork and canoe building, what happens at a powwow, and how North America earned its Aboriginal name, Turtle Island.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Child lit - I'm Finding My Talk (Rebecca Thomas)

I’m Finding My Talk (Nimbus Publishing, 2019)

by Rebecca Thomas

From sewing regalia to dancing at powow to learning traditional language, I'm Finding My Talk is about rediscovering community and finding culture. The book features stunning, vibrant illustrations by Mi'kmaw artist Pauline Young.

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Child lit - The Thundermaker (Alan Syliboy)

The Thundermaker (Nimbus Publishing, 2018)

by Alan Syliboy

Mi'kmaw artist Alan Syliboy's The Thundermaker is based on Alan's spectacular mixed-media exhibit of the same name. In the book, Big Thunder teaches his son, Little Thunder, about the important responsibility he has making thunder for his people. Little Thunder learns about his Mi'kmaw identity through his father's teachings and his mother's traditional stories.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Other Genres and Media

Other - Peace and Friendship Treaty

Peace and Friendship Treaty Between His Majesty the King and Jean Baptiste Cope (1752)

The Treaty of 1752, signed by Jean Baptiste Cope, described as the Chief Sachem of the Mi'kmaq inhabiting the eastern part of Nova Scotia, and Governor Hopson of Nova Scotia, made peace and promised hunting, fishing, and trading rights.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Other - translations of Robert Munsch books

Translations of Robert Munsch books into the Mi’kmaq language (2014) [out of print]

published by Eastern Woodland Publishing

An advisory committee of MK educators has translated seven Robert Munsch books into the Mi’kmaq language. The books were distributed to students in every Mi’kmaw community in 2014. The seven translated books are Thomas’ Snowsuit, Love You Forever, Mud Puddle, I Have To Go, I’m So Embarrassed, Andrew’s Loose Tooth, and A Promise is a Promise.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Ku’ku’kwes News

by Maureen Googoo

Ku’ku’kwes News is the only independent news website that covers Indigenous news in Atlantic Canada. It relies on monthly subscriptions to provide news coverage to readers.

(Recommended by WFNS President Lorri Neilsen Glenn)

Anthologies - The Mi'kmaq Anthology (Pottersfield)

The Mi’kmaq Anthology (Pottersfield Press, 1997)

edited by Rita Joe and Lesley Choyce

A varied and spiritual collection of work by the Mi'kmaq writers of Atlantic Canada. Both young and old stories and storytellers combine talents to produce short stories, poetry, and personal essays.

(Recommended by Theresa Meuse)

Other - Elapultiek (Shalan Joudry)

Elapultiek (Pottersfield Press, 2019)

by Shalan Joudry

Set in contemporary times, a young Mi’kmaw drum singer and a Euro-Nova Scotian biologist meet at dusk each day to count a population of endangered Chimney Swifts (kaktukopnji’jk). They quickly struggle with their differing views of the world. Through humour and story, the characters must come to terms with their own gifts and challenges as they dedicate efforts to the birds. Each “count night” reveals a deeper complexity of connection to land and history on a personal level.

(Recommended by Raymond Sewell)

Storytelling - The Truth About Stories (Thomas King)

The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative (House of Anansi, 2003)

by Thomas King

In his 2003 Massey lecture, award-winning author and scholar Thomas King looks at the breadth and depth of Native experience and imagination. Beginning with Native oral stories, King weaves his way through literature and history, religion and politics, popular culture and social protest, in an effort to make sense of North America's relationship with its Aboriginal peoples. An audio version of the lecture is available for free on the CBC Radio website.

(Recommended by Billy Lewis)

Graphic novel - On Loving Women (Diane Obomsawin)

On Loving Women (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

by Diane Obomsawin

On Loving Women is a new collection of stories about coming out, first love, and sexual identity by the animator Diane Obomsawin. With this work, Obomsawin brings her gaze to bear on subjects closer to home-her friends' and lovers' personal accounts of realizing they're gay or first finding love with another woman. Each story is a master class in reaching the emotional truth of a situation with the simplest means possible. Her stripped-down pages use the bare minimum of linework to expressively reveal heartbreak, joy, irritation, and fear.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Podcast - Kiwew (David Robertson)

Kiwew (CBC)

by David Robertson

Kīwew is a five-part podcast in which Governor General award-winning author David A. Robertson dives into his family's history and mysteries as he discovers and connects with his Cree identity.

(Recommended by Andrea Currie)

Other - The Healers, Mary Webb (David Roberston and Donovan Yaciuk)

The Healers: Mary Webb (Portage & Main Press, 2017) [out of print]

by David Robertson and Donovan Yaciuk; illustrated by Scott B. Henderson

Graphic novel

(Recommended by Shannon Webb-Campbell)

Halifax Welcomes New Poet Laureate

On the morning of Tuesday, April 24, 2018, politicians, press, and arts organizers gathered at City Hall to welcome Halifax’s new poet laureate, Dr. Afua Cooper, a widely published author and the current James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University.

It was “a bittersweet day,” noted Elizabeth Taylor, Manager of Culture & Events for the Halifax Regional Municipality, as the crowd was gathered not just to welcome Dr. Cooper, but also to say good-bye to outgoing Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas, who had served in the role from 2016-2018.

After opening remarks from Taylor, Mayor Mike Savage greeted the crowd with a few words of his own. Poetry, he reflected, is intended “not necessarily to please, but to take a stand,” a principle exemplified by previous HRM Poet Laureates such as Rebecca Thomas and El Jones.

The ceremony proceeded with words from Dr. Cooper, who thanked her family, as well as the members of the local Jamaican community, for their support. Dr. Cooper also referenced her grandmother’s influence on her life and career. Her grandmother, she shared, was not so interested in telling her grandchildren folktales, but in public history, “the factual things”, and was the inspiration for her career as a historian.

Before closing her remarks with a recitation of her poem “Negro Cemeteries,” Dr. Cooper also thanked her African ancestors. “They were not meant to survive,” she reflected, referencing the history of the slave trade in the Americas, “but here I am.”

The ceremony closed with a reading from Rebecca Thomas, who shared her poem “Footnotes,” which she said shared the hope “for all the things I care about.”

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is happy to share that later that day, Dr. Cooper stopped by our offices to renew her membership with the WFNS.

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