Writers Circle shares stories during the season
- Andrea Ledding | December 16, 2018
The Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers’ Circle Inc. (SAWCI) loves to celebrate and promote Indigenous literature, and 2018 saw many events, including their signature winter kick-off event, “Words for a Freezing Moon” which took place in both Saskatoon and Prince Albert.
“The music and to see us gathering...sharing from our hearts, it’s how we demonstrate our stories and our legends and our poetry,” said Elder Norman Fleury, adding that his grandparents and aunties and uncles used to gather similarly, but now it’s done both orally and in written form. “I remember legends, talking about telling those stories at the right times because there were protocols. This evening we can tell stories because there’s snow on the ground...you followed those laws and ways of doing things.”
He added that the ancestors were spiritually with us, watching over us, and that it’s good to get together and gather. The first form of storytelling was a slam poetry performance by members of the Saskatoon Indigenous Poets’ Society: Eco-Aborijanelle: Janelle Pewapsconias, Kevin Wesaquate, and Overflo: Shawn Joseph.
“Artists together, whether we’re sharing or creating and writing, I just believe that community needs to be built within the Indigenous literary community,” said Wesaquate.
Tristen Durocher provided fiddle music as well as sharing some of his poetry and storytelling.
“Reservations often are not our original homelands, they’re forced relocations. That’s segregation, and what is segregation if not ignorance?” observed Durocher, noting that he didn’t have anything against settlers, being Métis he considers everyone his relations. “So a lot of blindness is not willful ignorance, it was by design. And how we will open their eyes is with our stories.”
Author Carol Daniels, an award-winning Indigenous journalist, visual artist, musician, and literary artist read from her new poetry book “Hiraeth”, a Welsh word meaning yearning, longing, and nostalgia to a home to which you can never return, written to support and celebrate Indigenous women.
“I never set out to do this but I guess I am a feminist writer,” said Daniels, who said that she was discouraged from writing as a youth so went to journalism as a backup plan. “I’m happy I went into media because I had a good time meeting all sorts of wonderful people right across Canada.”
She describes her poetry as very honest, coming from being a 60’s Scoop Survivor.
“There’s nothing I can do about that, that’s something that the provincial government did to me, and tens of thousands of other babies, and is still doing even today,” said Daniels, whose original roots are Dene from La Loche and Cree from Sandy Bay. “My sisters are the most amazing women I have ever met, and I never grew up with them.” She grew up in a small farming community where she learned to hate being brown, along with racist untruths about herself, her family, her culture, and Indigenous women, and had to relearn becoming a proud Indigenous woman. Her poetry book reflects that journey.
“That is the reason I wrote this, it happened to too many of us, and I’m tired of saying it’s ok because it was never ok,” said Daniels, dedicating the book to women as well as her children. “I think our Indigenous women are the most amazing women in the world. I think we are the absolute backbone to our families, to our communities, and to our culture.”
The next SAWCI event will take place in January with a writing circle on editing, followed by a February circle on graphic novels, and a March event called “We Found Our Talk: Responding to Contemporary Issues.”