Photo: Myriam Baril-Tessier/MBT Photography
Born in 1991, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine is Innu, originally from Pessamit on Quebec’s North Shore.
Poet-performer, actor, visual artist, and activist for Indigenous and environmental rights, she lives in Montreal. Her first collection of poems, Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes (translated by Howard Scott; Mawenzi House, 2015), recounts her initial identity questioning and was hailed by critics, earning her the 2013 Prix littéraire des Écrivains francophones d’Amérique. A finalist at the 2015 Prix Émile-Nelligan, her second collection Assi Manifesto (Mawenzi House, 2016) offers a song to our planet Earth, suffocating as a result of the exploitation of natural resources, of tar sands in particular. Her third collection of poetry, Blueberries and Apricots (Mawenzi House, 2018) carries “the speech of the Indigenous woman, coming back to life to reverse history.” Kuei, My Friend: A Conversation on Race and Reconciliation (Talonbooks, 2018) is an epistolary exchange with celebrated Québécois-American author Deni Ellis Béchard. Translated into English by Howard Scott, Kanapé Fontaine’s books are now crossing borders and delighting audiences in Canada and around the world.
Kanapé Fontaine’s artistic and literary approach tends to bring together divergent peoples through dialogue, exchange, the sharing of values, and through the “tanning of skins” – a metaphorical way of scratching off the imperfections of thoughts and consciences. With poetry, she cradles environment and initiates a healing process. Kanapé Fontaine fights against racism, discrimination, and colonial mentalities through public speaking and poetry. She is often a guest poet, notably in Haiti, Belgium, France, Germany, Colombia, Scotland, and New Zealand (Aotearoa).