Joséphine Bacon is an Innu poet born in 1947 in Passamit, Nitassinan / Québec, and now living in Montréal. An icon of Québec literature, she writes in Innu-aimun and French, and has been invited to read her poems in many countries. She has also worked as a translator, community researcher, documentary filmmaker, curator, and songwriter.
She spent her early years on the land with her family, living a nomadic life and hearing the stories passed down from her Ancestors. At the age of four, she entered residential school in Mani-Utenam (Maliotenam), where she remained until she was nineteen. She later moved to Montréal and became a translator and transcriber for anthropologists interviewing Innu Elders and knowledge keepers in Labrador and Québec.
Her poetry has won many awards, including the Indigenous Voices Award, the international Ostana Prize (for writers whose mother tongue is a language of limited diffusion), and the Prix des libraires du Québec, and has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. She received an honorary doctorate from Université Laval in 2016 and has been inducted into the Ordre de Montréal and the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. She is the subject of the documentary film Je m’appelle humain (Call Me Human), by Kim O’Bomsawin.
Joséphine Bacon has said, “The poems I write are for those to come, so that they do not forget their origins in a land that will recognize their footsteps.”