Identity shapes how we see the world and how others interact with us. Through fiction, poetry and journalism, these writers illuminate the realisties of racism, isolation, identity and history for Indigenous people across Canada. Writing offers a new window onto the world and through their books stories these Indigeous writers are shifting the conversation about Idigenous rights in Canada.
Wrist by Nathan Adler's Wrist
October 21 @ 8:30PM
Nathan Adler is a member of Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation. His debut novel Wrist is an indigenous monster story that will draw you into the lives and stories of the Ojibway people. In 1872, a group of dinosaur hunters in northern Ontario were driven made by a bizarre and frightening illness. Over a hundred years later, the same illness threatens Church and his family. He must delve into his family’s dark history to protect the secrets of his people. He will be part of our Paranormal Prose panel with Kelley Armstrong and Kristi Charish. Click here for tickets and information.
Passage by Gwen Benaway
October 23 @ 8:30PM
Two-spirited Indigenous poet Gwen Benaway’s new collection of poetry, Passage, explores the the effects of violence and the burden of survival for indigenous people. The poems in her collection take readers from Northern Ontario to the Great Lakes, looking at family issues, a legacy of colonization and a new sexuality and gender. She will be joined by Vivek Shraya and Ivan Coyote. Click here for tickets and information.
The Break by Katherena Vermette
October 24 @ 6:30PM
When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break—a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house—she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. The Break, nominated for the 2016 Writers Trust Award for Fiction and the Governor General's Award, by Katherena Vermette, presents a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim—police, family, and friends—tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed. Vermette will be joined by Zoe Whittall and David Bergen. Click here for tickets and information.
Invisible North by Alexandra Shimo
October 24 @ 8:30PM
When freelance journalist Alexandra Shimo arrives in Kashechewan, a fly-in northern Ontario reserve, to investigate rumours of a fabricated water crisis and document its deplorable living conditions, she finds herself drawn into the troubles of the reserve. Unable to cope with the desperate conditions, she begins to fall apart. Part memoir, part history of the Canadian reserves, Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve offers a vivid first-person account of life on a troubled reserve that illuminates a difficult and oft-ignored history. She will be joined by Deborah Campbell and Joy Kogawa. Click here for tickets and information.
A Postcolonial Performance of scenes from The Tempest
October 25 at 6:30PM
As we celebrate the 400 years since Shakespeare's death with Margaret Atwood and retelling of The Tempest in Hag-Seed, we are also inviting Keith Barker and Walter Borden to present a Canadian, post-colonial reimagining of some of the key scenes from The Tempest. Click here for tickets and information.
Witness, I Am with Gregory Schofield
October 26 @ 8:30PM
Gregory Scofield is of Métis of Cree, European and Jewish descent. In his new work, Witness, I am, he addresses themes of identify and belonging and the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. He weaves his personal perspective and knowledge of indigenous culture into his work, creating poems that are powerful and moving. Schofield will be part of our Poetry Cabaret with Sandra Ridley, Stuart Ross and Stephen Brockwell. Click here for tickets and information.
This fall four writers take us behind the firing line with stories about war and the people it affects. Drawing on personal experiences, as soldiers, journalists and researchers, each writer places the realities of war in perspective with accounts not often told on the outside.
October 23 @ 6:30 pm
In one panel we bring together three novelists who question and explore the theatre of war. In his novel, Into the Sun, Deni Ellis Bechard paints an unsentimental portrait of the impact journalists, mercenaries, messianic idealists, and aid workers have when they flood into war zones. Bechard brings Kabul to life, portraying citizens who are determined, resourceful and as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves and survive. Peter Behrens’ Carry Me, is both a love story and a historical epic. The reader gains a fresh perspective on Europe’s violent twentieth century, from the Isle of Wight to London under Zeppelin attack to Germany during the Weimar period. Kevin Patterson’s new novel News From the Red Desert begins in 2001 when everyone thought the conflict in Afghanistan was over. The novel then delves into the mess, confusion and death of a war that was not yet won, and the lives of the men and women involved. Click here for tickets.
A Disappearance in Damascus
October 25 @ 8:30 pm
In the midst of an unfolding international crisis, journalist Deborah Campbell, undercover in Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, finds herself swept up in the mysterious disappearance of Ahlam, her guide and friend. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend’s arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow desperately trying to find her—all the while fearing she could be next. A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War is a frank, personal account of a journey through fear, and the triumph of friendship and courage. Campbell will join Alexandra Shimo and Joy Kogawa to talk about the crossover between journalism and memoir. Click here for tickets.
An Ongoing Battle with PTSD with Romeo Dallaire
November 30th @ 7pm
Roméo Dallaire, traumatized by witnessing genocide on an imponderable scale in Rwanda, reflects in these pages on the nature of PTSD and the impact of that deep wound on his life since 1994, and on how he motivates himself and others to humanitarian work despite his constant struggle. Dallaire wll talk about his struggles with PTSD and how it has motivated him to help soldiers better deal with the muddy reality of modern conflict zones and to revolutionizing our thinking about the changing nature of conflict itself. Click here for tickets.
Children of Earth and Sky with Guy Gavriel Kay
October 21 @ 6:30PM
Guy Gavriel Kay's novels have captured the imaginations of readers for decades. His latest novel, Children of the Earth and Sky takes place in a fictional world inspired by the conflicts and dramas inspired by Renaissance Europe. In a world where danger lurks on every side, the story follows the lives of several characters who set sail on the same ship and find their lives and fates entwined.
Paranormal Prose with Kelley Armstrong, Kristi Charish and Nathan Adler
October 21 @ 8:30PM
M. G Vassanji's Nostalgia
October 22 @ 8:30PM
Award winning Canadian author M. G. Vassanji is no stranger to new lands, real or fictional. But his new novel, Nostalgia takes on the dystopian genre in Brave-New-World-esque future set in Toronto. The rich live forever by erasing their memories and implanting new ones. A doctors who is attempting to help others keep their old memories from seeping into their new life suddenly discovers he has his memories of a past life. But what do these memories mean? And what will he learn about himself?
Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed
October 25 @ 6:30PM
Margaret Atwood is back with a new retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest in Hag-seed . In her retelling, Felix, an Artistic Director of a theatre festival, plans what should be an unforgettable performance of The Tempest but when he is ousted from his position and sent into exile he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison. Atwood once again takes us into an exploration of the prison system where the prisoners as actors, in a theatrical plan to snare Felix's enemies. It’s magic! But will he succeed?
Though residential schools were one of the biggest systems that disconnected Indigenous people from their communities, there are many more systems and situation that fractured young Indigenous identities and cultural ties, such as the Sixties Scoop. In her debut novel Bearskin Diary, Carol Daniels applies journalistic storytelling to explore complexities young Indigenous Canadians face growing up away from their communities and their struggle to reconnect with their heritage.
Sandy was swooped out of the arms of her mother as a newborn in the Sixties Scoop and fortunate enough to be adopted by a Ukrainian family in a small Saskatchewan town. Despite her luck of finding a loving family Sandy’s childhood and youth is tainted by the racism of her community. These memories, scattered throughout the novel, do not spare the harsh reality of racism and are painful to relive for both Sandy and the reader. From childhood insults to being chased out of a school dance, her difference is distinctly tied to her skin colour, something she begins to resent, developing a heartbreaking habit of trying to scrub the colour from her skin.
In spite of this racism Sandy’s Baba encourages her learn about and draw strength from her hertiage through books about Indigenous culture and history in Canada. Through this education, Sandy develops an academic understanding of her roots. It is not until she pursues her career as a journalist in Regina and then Saskatoon and is tasked with and driven to put a spotlight on Indigenous stories that Sandy has real contact with the community she longs for.
Sandy’s desire to know her Indigenous culture is contrasted with that of her Metis lover, Blue Greyes - raised in the city by a single white mother. Like Sandy, he grew up apart from his Indigenous culture and strived for assimilation, but he never grew out of it. Sandy meets him as he is training to become a police officer, and though he thinks that he might be able to do some good as the only indigenous man on the force, Blue’s pursuit of a career in law enforcement is another way for him to blend-in, to command respect from white and Indigenous people alike. Sandy’s desire to belong to her community and Blue’s need to blend in is a wedge in their relationship.
Reading Bearskin Diary, I could not help but compare Sandy’s character and pursuit to understand her Indigenous culture to that of Agnes in Margot Kane’s acclaimed one-woman show Moonlodge (revived this year by the National Arts Centre’s ensemble member Paula-Jean Prudat). Agnes, like Sandy, was forcefully taken from her family and adopted. While her family situation was terser than Sandy’s both women set out to recover their heritage and find identity and belonging at the powwow.
In Moonlodge, Agnes’s road trip culminates in her attendance at a powwow where she is recognised as sister. For Sandy, the powwow is a stepping stone on her path to claiming her identity. It is at the powwow that she is welcomed into the community and realises her need to be a part of it. An outsider in many ways, she is invited to the powwow by her friend and cameraman, Kyle. Though a white man, Kyle was adopted by Amos as brother when he sought healing for his drinking and depression through Indigenous practices. Kyle’s adoption by the Indigenous community contrasts Sandy’s adoption as child and paints a fuller portrait of Indigenous culture and the quest for healing.
Sandy’s spiritual growth at the powwow supports her personal growth as a journalist. Welcomed into the community, Sandy finds the strength to help break the community’s silence around the sexual assault of young women, and breaks her career as a leading Indigenous woman journalist.
Bearskin Diary spares no details and explores the complexities of what it means to be torn from your community and the challenges of healing this wound. Though Sandy is the heroine, Daniels' journalistic storytelling style presents multiple perspectives, from the heroine to the criminal, from elder to agnostic, telling a broader story about life in Saskatchewan, and Canada as a whole.
Carol Daniels will part of our festival on April 14th, alongside Paul Lynch and Abdourahman A. Waberi and
Often when a book sets out to explore the aftermath of historical events or acts of terror it tries to answer the “why.” Why did they do it? Why then? Why this way? But in exploring the 1984 Air India bombing in her new novel, All Inclusive , Farzana Doctor takes a different approach.
At the heart of Doctor’s novel are the stories of Ameera and her father Azeez who are separated the day Azeez boards Air India flight 182 on his way home to India. The chapters switch back and forth between Ameera and Azeez’s perspective; two storylines which themselves are on a crash course.
Azeez’s first few chapters trace his last days with the living.Two days before the bombing he meets Nora and engages in his first and last sexual encounter, which results in Nora's conception. The next day Azeez is too nervous to call Nora before he gets on his plan and he leaves without giving her any way to reach him.
As Azeez settles into the plane and makes friends with other passengers there is fleeting moment of hope that this might not be that Air India plane, but there is no escaping history here. Instead of the flight ending Azeez’s story however, it is only the beginning. As Azeez’s body sinks into the sea, never to be found, his spirit remains tied to earth.
"It was liberating to write about the afterlife," says Doctor. "This is an arena which allows the imagination to roam because none of us have any idea what happens next. I blended Islamic ideas (we believe in angels and some of us believe that spirits of ancestors are with us long after they pass) but I found myself 'making up' the rest and enjoying the process."
The imagination of the afterlife is one of the highlights of the novel. Azeez is granted carte blanche and is able to see and hear everything as he tries to help his family overcome his death and carry on with their lives. Azeez, as a human, was still a boy. In spiritual limbo he grows wiser, more compassionate and supportive. Azeez’s living-self pales in comparison to the ghost he becomes.
Ameera contrasts her father in this perspective. Her character is so alive that she feels like a best friend. While her father takes a spiritual journey towards self-discovery, she engages in a sexual one.
Ameera has escaped from her life in Hamilton to work as a tour operator at a resort in Huatulco, Mexico. Here she finds her true sexual identity. Deciding that it is safer to sleep with resort guest who are couples, (they are more discreet) Ameera embraces the freedom that comes with being a unicorn. The only problem: she has to keep it secret or risk putting her job and a promotion in jeopardy.
Throughout the novel, two strong stories evolve: Azeez’s driven by spiritual fulfillment and Ameera’s by sexual desire. "These are two aspects of ourselves that humans find baffling," says Doctor. "With both, we might deny, undervalue, suppress, or not question our beliefs and values. The two characters are contrasting figures with these aspects; Ameera lacks spiritual development, but allows her sexuality to be expansive, while Azeez’s process requires him to grow spiritually, while remaining an (almost) virgin."
Slowly, Azeez and Ameera find each other, Azeez with the help of his spirit guides and Ameera with the help of a lesbian couple she meets at the resort. The spiritual and the sexual journeys of the two characters complement each other, and Ameera and Azeez help the other move on to the next stage of their (after) life.
Through the relationship of the ghost and the living, Doctor emphasises the importance of looking back on our history and listening to the stories it has to tell. Instead of querying the causes of the Air India bombing, Doctors explores how we learn from the past.
The Air India bombing doesn’t feature prominently in the canon of Canadian literature, and in many ways is a ghost itself. In All Inclusive, Doctor crafts a modern ghost story that emphasises an open mind when it comes to history and a focus on its outcomes rather than its cause.
Farzana Doctor will be part of our spring festival on Friday, April 15 with Nadia Bozak and Christine Dwyer Hickey.
Saskatchewan’s Carol Daniels –writer, artist and musician–was Canada's first Aboriginal woman to anchor a national newscast. Raw and honest, her debut novel Bearskin Diary draws on her experience as a journalist and investigates what it means to find your voice and dare to speak up. With her debut, Daniels adds an important perspective to the Canadian literary landscape.
Born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Joan Crate ’s first novel, Breathing Water , was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Award and the Books in Canada First Novel Award. Her latest, Black Apple , is a dramatic and lyrical coming-of-age novel about a young Blackfoot girl who grows up in the residential school system on the Canadian prairies.
Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is a writer, spoken word artist, activist and the founder and Managing Editor of Kegedonce Press, one of only four Indigenous publishers in Canada. In The Stone Collection , she takes on complex and dangerous emotions, exploring the gamut of modern Anishinaabe experience. It is “generous, funny and dark,” and "doesn’t pull its emotional punches but it leavens its grim truths with bright humour and earthy lust,” says Eden Robinson.
After a vicious beating in a hotel room robbery in South Africa, however, James Bartleman , Ontario’s first Native lieutenant governor, was forced to come to terms with a deepening depression. In the end, Bartleman found new meaning in life when he became the Queen’s representative in Ontario and mobilized the public to support his initiatives championing books and education for Native children.
The issue features a foreword by Jonathan Kay, editor-in-chief of The Walrus, and an afterword by Kate Heartfield, of the Ottawa Citizen. We also feature a special interview series with editors at The Globe and Mail, Maisonneuve, and Herd Magazine.
Foment is the annual literary journal of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Canada's largest independent literary celebration. It is entirely produced by volunteers, typifying an engagement that is unique in the world of literary festivals. Foment means “to incite” or “stir up,” even “to nurture.” As a journal, Foment seeks to nurture “the quality of the mind” by vigorously engaging with the ideas and works of festival authors. Foment will be an outlet where aspiring writers can express their reflections. Foment seeks be a vessel which edifies, enlivens debate, and provides a thoughtful outpost on a diverse range of books.
ENJOY THE READ!
FIRST ANNUAL PERTH WRITING CONTEST
Sponsored by the Booksellers of Perth
The contest is open to residents of Perth and area, which includes: Town of Perth and the three townships of Tay Valley, Drummond / North Elmsley and Lanark Highlands.
• Category A: Student (age 13-17)
o Short Story (maximum 1500 words)
o Non-fiction story or essay (maximum 1500 words)
• Category B: Adult (age 18 and over)
o Short Story (maximum 1500 words)
o Non-fiction story or essay (maximum 1500 words)
• Entries must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant.
• There is no entry fee. Entries are limited to two per entrant: as a maximum two short stories, or two non-fiction pieces, or one of each.
• Each entry must be in English, typed, double-spaced, on 8½” x 11" paper, one side only, page-numbered consecutively on bottom right of pages.
• Indicate category, entry type (short story or non-fiction) and title on top left corner of every page.
• Contest is blind judged. Entrant's name must NOT appear on the submission(s).
• For each submission, include a separate cover page with contest category and type, title, name, address, phone number, and email address.
• Prizes for each category: First: $75.00, Second: $25.00.
• The Ottawa International Writers Festival – Perth Chapter reserves the right to withhold any prize should entries fail to meet expected standards.
• Deadline: Friday, August 1, 2014.
• Mail entries or drop off to any of Perth ’ s booksellers:
o The Book Nook and Other Treasures, 60 Gore Street East, K7H 1H7
o The Bookworm, 76 Foster Street, K7H 1S1
o Backbeat Books and Music, 6 Wilson Street West, K7H 2M5
o The Word, 37A Foster Street, K7H 1R8
o Blackwood Originals, 1 Gore Street West, K7H 2L5
• Entries postmarked or dropped off after midnight Friday, August 1, 2014 will be disqualified.
• Submissions will be neither acknowledged nor returned.
• Entries not conforming to the above rules will be disqualified.
• Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at The Ottawa International Writers Festival – Perth Chapter Literary Event, August 22-23, 2014. Date and time of presentation will be announced.
This contest is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the booksellers of Perth and by The Perth Writers Guild, for providing contest judging