Reconciliation through writing2017 NorthWords Writers' Festival draws award-winning aboriginal voices from a variety of literary forms
Northern News Services
Monday, June 5, 2017
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 2015 report, it stressed indigenous knowledge, oral histories and storytelling as a way to forge an understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians moving forward.
NWT author Richard Van Camp will be one of many Northern writers at the NorthWords festival this year. The NorthWords' theme this year is "Reconciliation: Honouring the past, looking to future. It is also welcoming award-winning indigenous storytellers Tracey Lindbergh and Rosanna Deerchild among others. - NNSL file photo
Running with this notion, the 2017 NorthWords Writers' Festival theme is Reconciliation: Honouring the Past and Looking to the Future. It begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday.
As festival board member Lynn O'Rourke explains it, the festival's goal is to explore words, writing and storytelling on the journey to reconciliation.
To do this, the festival will feature authors working in a variety of different literary forms.
"When we were looking around to see who we might bring from southern Canada and locally, we found a wide range of indigenous authors who were publishing in a wide range of formats - academic, fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, young adult novels and children's stories," she said.
O'Rourke said the festival explores reconciliation from different perspectives: personal, political, social and global viewpoints.
"We want to talk about reconciliation not just as a Canadian issue but from a global issue," she said.
The festival will showcase award-winning indigenous authors including Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie; Rosanna Deerchild, broadcaster, poet and author of Calling Down the Sky and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, poet, songwriter and author of This Accident of Being Lost. Other writers coming to this year's festival include Winnipeg publisher and comic lover Hope Nicholson and slam poet Sam Bassam Halevy, who will discuss reconciliation from an Arab-Israeli perspective.
Northern writers will be making an appearance too. Richard Van Camp, Laurie Sarkadi, Paul Andrew and Catherine Lafferty are on the docket, including several other NWT-based writers.
The annual four-day literary festival features a combination of readings, panel discussions, open mics and workshops with an aim to encourage people to put pen to paper.
New this year is a Spot the Author event that invites the public to sit down with authors for a coffee and chat at The Fat Fox.
Also new is a youth writing workshop on Saturday afternoon designed specifically for children. Melanie Florence, a non-fiction writer from Toronto who writes for young people, will be heading up this event.
"One of our aims is to do more work with young people and provide them with opportunities for creative writing workshops as we do with adults," said O'Rourke.