Storykeepers: Let's Talk Indigenous Books is a monthly podcast hosted by Jennifer David and Waubgeshig Rice. Each episode, they're joined by a guest host to discuss books by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit authors.
- The Sentence by Louise ErdrichThis month's episode is a big one! As usual, we have a in-depth discussion about a great book, but we also have a big announcement. This will be our second-last episode! You'll hear why in the first few minutes, and we'll be back next month to continue that conversation and wrap everything up. In the meantime, please enjoy our chat about The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. It's a wonderful novel about an Indigenous-owned bookstore in Minneapolis and the vibrant and complex Indigenous community around it. Because it's our last full chat with a guest host, we wanted to come full-circle and invite Daniel Heath Justice to join us. We featured his book Why Indigenous Literatures Matter in our very first episode. Please enjoy this compelling and insightful discussion with Daniel about The Sentence!More on The Sentence:https://www.harpercollins.ca/9780062671134/the-sentence/More on Daniel Heath Justice:https://danielheathjustice.com
- Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-WilsonWe've got another novel for you this month! We read Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson and asked acclaimed author and storyteller Michelle Good to join us to talk about it. Published in 2021, Probably Ruby tells the story of an Indigenous woman who was adopted out as an infant on her journey to find family and identity. The novel won the 2022 Saskatchewan Book Awards Book of the Year, and was shortlist for the Governor General's Literary Award and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. More about Probably Ruby:https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/669226/probably-ruby-by-lisa-bird-wilson/9780385696708More about Michelle Good:Michelle Good is a Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years, she obtained a law degree and advocated for residential school survivors for over fourteen years. Good earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia while still practising law and managing her own law firm. Her poems, short stories, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada, and her poetry was included on two lists of the best Canadian poetry in 2016 and 2017. Five Little Indians, her first novel, won the HarperCollins/UBC Best New Fiction Prize, the Amazon First Novel Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Award, the Evergreen Award, the City of Vancouver Book of the Year Award, and Canada Reads 2022. It was also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a finalist for the Writer’s Trust Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Jim Deva Prize for Writing that Provokes. On October 7, 2022 Simon Fraser University granted her an Honorary Doctor of Letters. Her new work, Truth Telling: Seven Conversations about Indigenous life in Canada is set for release on May 30, 2023.
- Indigenous Kids' Books with David A. RobertsonThis month we're putting the spotlight on books for kids by Indigenous authors, so we invited award-winning author David A. Robertson to join us. He's received several accolades for his books for kids and young adults and his literacy advocacy, and was recently appointed Editorial Director at the Tundra Book Group. In this episode David shares his journey as a writer, his creative process, his thoughts on the growing list of kids' books by Indigenous authors, and why he wants to hear from more Indigenous storytellers.Here's a link to the Indigenous picture book resource Waubgeshig references in the episode: https://www.ibby-canada.org/indigenous-picture-book-collection/More on David A. Robertson:David A. Robertson (he, him, his) was the 2021 recipient of the Writers’ Union of Canada Freedom to Read Award as well as the Globe and Mail Children's Storyteller of the Year. He is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award and the McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People Award. The Barren Grounds, Book 1 of the middle-grade The Misewa Saga series, received a starred review from Kirkus, was a Kirkus and Quill & Quire best middle-grade book of 2020, was a USBBY and Texas Lone Star selection, was shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award, and was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award. His memoir, Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory, was a Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire book of the year in 2020, and won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction as well as the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award at the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards. On The Trapline, illustrated by Julie Flett, won David's second Governor General's Literary Award, won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, and was named one of the best picture books of 2021 by the CCBC, The Horn Book, New York Public Library, Quill & Quire, and American Indians in Children's Literature. Dave is the writer and host of the podcast Kíwew (Key-Way-Oh), winner of the 2021 RTDNA Praire Region Award for Best Podcast. His first adult fiction novel, The Theory of Crows, was published in 2022 and is a national bestseller. He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.
- Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake SimpsonThis month scholar and writer Geraldine King joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig to talk about Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Originally published in 2013, the collection of short stories, poems, and songs is widely heralded in Indigenous storytelling circles. Simpson brilliantly explores the modern lives and realities of Indigenous peoples in cities and communities as they assert their rights and identities in the face of ongoing colonialism.More on Islands of Decolonial Love:https://arpbooks.org/product/islands-of-decolonial-love/More on Geraldine King:https://www.mcgill.ca/indigenous/geraldine-king
- All the Quiet Places, A Minor Chorus, & Avenue of ChampionsWelcome to Season 3! To kick off 2023, we decided to talk about three books by Indigenous authors that made the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize long list: All the Quiet Places by Brian Thomas Isaac, A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt, and Avenue of Champions by Conor Kerr. We also discussed our plans for the new season, which will be a bit different than the first two. Big thanks for joining us on Storykeepers!
- NISHGA by Jordan AbelThat's a wrap on Season 2! To cap off 2022, Jennifer and Waubgeshig are joined by author, poet, and professor Joshua Whitehead to talk about NISHGA by Jordan Abel. NISHGA is a powerful autobiographical exploration of Indigenous identity and self-awareness in the ongoing devastation of intergenerational trauma. This collection of reflections, poems, artwork, and more is eclectic, candid, and heartfelt, and we felt honoured and privileged to be able to read and discuss it at the end of this season.More on NISHGA:https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/610846/nishga-by-jordan-abel/9780771007903More on Joshua Whitehead:Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017), Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018), the editor of Love after the End: an Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction (Arsenal 2020) and most recently, Making Love with the Land (Knopf Canada 2022). He currently resides in Treaty 7 territory, Calgary, where he lives and teaches.
- Storykeepers Spotlight: Kegedonce PressWe are honoured this month to feature one of the integral publishing houses supporting Indigenous stories and voices for decades: Kegedonce Press. Founder Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig to talk about the origins of Kegedonce Press, its books and authors, the importance of Indigenous publishers, and her own body of work as an author and poet. She also recommends some great recent Kegedonce titles to read.For more on Kegedonce Press, visit www.kegedonce.com
- Truth and Reconciliation Reading ListWe're taking a different approach to this month's episode and releasing it a day early to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. We've informally curated a list of books that focus on the residential school experience and the resilience of survivors. We encourage listeners to seek out novels, memoirs, poetry, plays, and more beyond what we've discussed in this episode, and to support survivors however possible. Miigwech/thanks for listening.Some of the books and works discussed in Season 2 Episode 10:Burning in this Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice HalfeFive Little Indians by Michelle GoodIndian Horse by Richard WagameseThe Marrow Thieves by Cherie DimalineI Lost My Talk by Rita JoeThey Called Me Number One by Bev SellarsCalling Down the Sky by Rosanna DeerchildCall Me Indian by Fred SasakamooseResidential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419More reading:https://www.cbc.ca/books/48-books-by-indigenous-writers-to-read-to-understand-residential-schools-1.6056204https://www.torontomu.ca/content/dam/aec/pdfs/TRC_reading_and_film_list.pdfhttps://bookriot.com/indian-residential-schools-books/
- Witness, I Am by Gregory ScofieldWaubgeshig is back in the regular co-host chair this month after his Giller Prize jury duties to join Jennifer and poet/playwright Shalan Joudry as they feature Gregory Scofield's poetry collection Witness, I Am. The award-winning poet's 2016 book is divided into three compelling sections that deftly explore contemporary Indigenous themes, from identity to ceremony to the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered women and girls. More on Witness, I Am:https://harbourpublishing.com/products/9780889713239More on Shalan Joudry:https://www.shalanjoudry.com/bio
- This Place: 150 Years RetoldThis month Jennifer discusses the graphic novel anthology This Place: 150 Years Retold with one of its contributors, writer and artist Brandon Mitchell. Published in 2017 by Portage & Main Press, the anthology explores the history of what is now called Canada through the eyes of Indigenous creators. This Place has received numerous awards for its profound imagery and storytelling that highlights the stories of Indigenous people and communities often neglected and ignored.More on This Place:https://www.portageandmainpress.com/Books/T/This-PlaceMore on Brandon Mitchell:Brandon Mitchell is Mi’gmaq from Listuguj First Nations in Quebec and currently resides in the unceded Wolastoqiyik territory of Fredericton, New Brunswick. He is a husband to Natasha Martin and father to Brayden and Bryce Mitchell. He carries a Diploma in Animation and Design from the New Brunswick Community College of Miramichi and holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of New Brunswick. He is the founder of Birch Bark Comics and creator of the Sacred Circles comic series, which explored his Mi’kmaq heritage through a contemporary lens. He has authored six stories for Indigenous Story Studio: Lost Innocence, Drawing Hope, River Run, Making it Right, Emily's Choice and Tomorrow’s Hope. He was approached to by the University of Alabama to script and illustrate Jean-Paul's Daring Adventure: Stories from Old Mobile. He was also a contributing author of "Migwite'tmeg: We Remember It" for “This Place: 150 years retold” which recounts the events leading up to the infamous salmon raids that took place in Listuguj in the summer of 1981 by Highwater Press. Brandon is also the creator and author of a new young readers series “Giju’s Gift” published by Highwater Press. In it, a Mi’kmaw girl battles an ancient giant and forms an unexpected friendship with a mythical creature, this is the first volume of an ongoing series of graphic novels inspired by traditional stories.
- Five Little Indians by Michelle GoodThis month Jennifer and Waubgeshig are joined by Ry Moran, the Associate University Librarian – Reconciliation at the University of Victoria to talk about Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Published in 2020, the novel follows five residential school survivors from their detention in the institutions into their adulthood, as they embark to heal from the trauma of their experiences. The book has won several awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and CBC's Canada Reads. National Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419More on Five Little Indians:https://www.harpercollins.ca/9781443459181/five-little-indians/More on Ry Moran:Ry Moran is Canada’s inaugural Associate University Librarian – Reconciliation at the University of Victoria. Ry’s role within UVic Libraries’ focuses on building and sustaining relationships to introduce Indigenous approaches and knowledge into the daily work of the Libraries and more broadly across the campus community. In so doing, Ry plays an active role in advancing UVic’s strategic goal of being a globally recognized leader in areas of reconciliation.Ry came to this position from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted by the University of Manitoba. As the founding director, Ry guided the creation of the NCTR from its inception. Along the way, Ry contributed to major national initiatives such as the creation of the National Student Memorial Register, designation of multiple residential schools as national historical sites, development and launch of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, and a major educational broadcast which reached over three million Canadians.Prior to the NCTR, Ry served with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). On the TRC’s behalf, he facilitated the gathering of nearly 7,000 video/audio-recorded statements of former residential school students and millions of pages archival records.Ry’s life-long passion for the arts and music continues to be an important part of his life as he continues to write and produce original music.Ry is a distinguished alumni of the University of Victoria and was awarded a Meritorious Service Cross by the Governor General. Ry is a proud member of the Red River Métis.
- The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir by Duncan McCueWe're very pleased to welcome journalist Lenny Carpenter to the show this month to talk about Duncan McCue's The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir. Lenny chatted with Jennifer about his journalism background and upbringing in the James Bay region and how he related with McCue's book. The Shoe Boy is a coming-of-age memoir that documents the renowned journalist's time as a teen on the east side of James Bay.More on The Shoe Boy:https://www.ubcpress.ca/the-shoe-boyMore on Lenny Carpenter:Lenny Carpenter is an Omushkego (Swampy Cree) writer based in Timmins, Ont. He is a member of Attawapiskat First Nation raised in the James Bay community of Moosonee. Lenny has experience in journalism, primarily as a reporter and editor/publisher with Wawatay News covering First Nations in northern Ontario. He has experience in media development from when he was the Indigenous Reporters Program manager with Journalists for Human Rights. The program was aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous voices in Canadian media and educating non-Indigenous media on improving their coverage. Lenny is a graduate of the Film Production program at Confederation College and was the festival director of the B’iindigaate Indigenous Film Festival in 2013.Lenny is currently a Gladue writer with Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services, producing Gladue reports for members of Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities facing sentencing.
- A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia ElliottSix Nations of the Grand River is in the spotlight this month with a compelling discussion about Alicia Elliott's highly acclaimed essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. Writer, researcher, and policy expert Courtney Skye of Six Nations joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig to discuss the book's poignant themes and exploration of contemporary Indigenous realities. Elliott's collection garnered several accolades when it was first published in 2019.More on A Mind Spread Out on the Ground:https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/588523/a-mind-spread-out-on-the-ground-by-alicia-elliott/9780385692380More on Courtney Skye:Courtney has led policy development for the public sector at local, provincial, and national levels, with a specific focus on youth development and ending violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. Her work focuses on the promotion of the political mobilization of Indigenous women, Trans, non-Binary and Two-Spirit people to create transformational change in communities. Her work focuses on re-imagining traditional approaches to policy development in order to meet the diverse needs of Indigenous communities. Her past projects include creating a framework for youth development, a strategy co-developed with Indigenous partners to transform the governance, design, and delivery of child and family services, and a strategy to end violence against Indigenous women. Courtney is passionate about making sure communities are heard in policy development, and strives to end all forms of colonial violence experienced by Indigenous peoples by entrenching deep commitment to rights and jurisdiction.https://www.littlesisterconsulting.com
- Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma DunningFor April's episode, Jennifer is joined by the multi-talented stage and literary artist Reneltta Arluk to talk about the award-winning short story collection Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning. Published in 2021, the book's six stories focus on contemporary Inuk characters, drawn from lived experience and cultural memory. The collection won the Governor General's Award for English-language Fiction in 2021.More on Tainna:https://douglas-mcintyre.com/products/9781771622714More on Reneltta Arluk:Reneltta Arluk is Dene and Inuvialuit from the Northwest Territories. She is a graduate of the BFA-Acting program from the University of Alberta and founder of Akpik Theatre, a professional Indigenous Theatre company in the NWT. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, being raised in a nomadic environment gave Reneltta the skills to become the artist she is now. For over ten years Reneltta has been part of or initiated the creation of Indigenous Theatre across various parts of Canada and overseas as an actor, storyteller, writer and producer. “Keeping Culture Alive,” as her mom would say. She is currently the Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
- Empire of Wild by Cherie DimalineMétis scholar Celiese Lypka joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig this month to explore Cherie Dimaline's bestselling novel Empire of Wild. Published in 2019, the story follows a Métis woman in search of her missing husband in the face of mysterious and oppressive forces. Dimaline has received numerous accolades for her writing, and the New York Times has named her one of the "Indigenous novelists reshaping North American science fiction, horror and fantasy."More on Empire of Wild:https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/600423/empire-of-wild-by-cherie-dimaline/9780735277182More on Celiese Lypka:Celiese Lypka is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and lives in Treaty 1 territory, where she has spent most of her life and is now raising her wonderful and wild four-year-old daughter. She is an Assistant Professor of English in the Centre for Humanities at Athabasca University, teaching women’s writing and Indigenous literatures. Her recent work focuses on Métis women’s storytelling as modes of Indigenous resurgence and decolonial love.
- Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing by Tomson HighwayThis month Ojibway playwright, author, and television host Drew Hayden Taylor joins Jennifer to talk about Tomson Highway's classic play Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing. First staged in 1989, the award-winning drama is widely considered one of the most influential theatrical works in history. Also in this episode, Waubgeshig explains his role on the jury for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which will take him away from Storykeepers occasionally this year.More on Dry Lips:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_Lips_Oughta_Move_to_KapuskasingMore on Drew Hayden Taylor:https://www.drewhaydentaylor.com/biography/
- The Strangers by Katherena VermetteSeason 2 kicks off with Jennifer and Waub discussing Katherena Vermette's award-winning new novel The Strangers with artist and curator Jaime Morse. Published in 2021, The Strangers is a companion novel to Vermette's breakthrough novel The Break. It explores the intergenerational saga of a Métis family in Winnipeg, told from the perspectives of its women. The Strangers won the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in the fall of 2021, and was long listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.More on The Strangers:https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/624145/the-strangers-by-katherena-vermette/9780735239616Jaime Morse's bio:Jaime Morse is Michif from northern Alberta and has lived on Anishnaabe Territory since 2000. Jaime is the owner of Indigenous Walks and works as an Educator - Indigenous Programs and Outreach at the National Gallery of Canada. Jaime is the mother to four beautiful children and passes on her knowledge of fish scale art, beading and Metis jigging.
- Remembering Lee MaracleThis month we're taking a break from our usual book discussion to honour the life and legacy of the great Lee Maracle. The iconic Sto:lo writer and storyteller died in November at the age of 71. She leaves behind a revolutionary catalogue of published works, along with an abundance of tremendous stories and other artworks that have inspired and influenced generations of Indigenous storytellers. To honour Lee and her work, we invited writers Tanya Talaga and Armand Garnet Ruffo to join us to share their reflections of their time with her, and how she will continue to shape literature for generations to come.https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-what-canada-lost-when-lee-maracle-passed-away/https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lee-maracle-death-bc-indigenous-writer-poet-1.6245582https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/14/books/lee-maracle-dead.html
- The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van CampThis month singer/songwriter Leela Gilda joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig to talk about The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp. Originally published in 1996, the coming-of-age story set in the north became a bestseller and garnered international acclaim. It has since been adapted to a film (released in 2012) and long-listed for Canada Reads. Van Camp has published more than two dozen books since.More on The Lesser Blessed:https://douglas-mcintyre.com/collections/bestsellers/products/9781771621137More on Leela Gilday:If you’re from the North, Leela Gilday’s music is home. If you’ve never been, it will take you there. Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, she writes about the people and the land that created her. The power in her voice conveys the depth of her feelings of love and life in a rugged environment and vibrant culture, as if it comes straight from that earth. Leela’s family is from Délįne on the shore of Great Bear Lake and her rich vocals dance across the rhythmic beats of traditional Dene drumming as smoothly as a bass line onstage the largest venues in the country. And she has played them all. Leela has toured festivals and concert halls with her four-piece band through every province and territory in Canada. She has played in the United States, Greenland, Australia, New Zealand and several countries in Europe. Her live shows are where she connects with fans who have followed her on a 20-year career and where new fans are born. She reaches into their hearts and feels the energy of every person in front of her as she guides them on a journey through song and experience. She believes music has an inexplicable effect on people. It is a place where she can share light and dark and the most vulnerable moments, with a clarity and genuine purpose that reassures her listeners through every word. She is a storyteller, and through this, reflects the world onto itself. Five years after her last album was released—five years of growth, healing and head-down work—Leela’s fifth album “North Star Calling” was released in late 2019 and has since won a 2021 Juno for Indigenous Artist/Group of the Year, a Canadian Folk Music Award for Indigenous Songwriter of the Year, and Roots Album of the Year at the Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards. It is more raw, more intimate and more Leel
- Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya TalagaThis month Thunder Bay-based journalist Willow Fiddler appears on Storykeepers to talk about Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga. The book is a thorough examination of the deaths of seven Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay over the span of eleven years, and the human rights violations of Indigenous peoples in Canada that can lead to tragic outcomes. It has won numerous prestigious awards, including the RBC Taylor Prize and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.More on Seven Fallen Feathers:https://houseofanansi.com/products/seven-fallen-feathersWillow Fiddler's bio:Willow Fiddler is a national news reporter for The Globe and Mail, covering northern Ontario and Manitoba. Prior to joining The Globe, she was a video journalist for Aboriginal Peoples Television Network National News reporting in Thunder Bay. She is a three-time finalist for the Canadian Association of Journalists awards and the recipient of the 2017 Emerging Indigenous Journalist award. Ms. Fiddler is passionate about stories and issues that impact Indigenous people and communities, particularly in the North.