news | Thursday June 22, 2023

It’s Indigenous History Month!

It’s Indigenous History Month! What better way to spend this June than reading the works of some of the most profoundly talented authors writing today? We are so excited to be able to share some truly spectacular titles by Indigenous authors with readers everywhere.

This spring, Spells, Wishes, and the Talking Dead: ᒪᒪᐦᑖᐃᐧᓯᐃᐧᐣ ᐸᑯᓭᔨᒧᐤ ᓂᑭᐦᒋ ᐋᓂᐢᑯᑖᐹᐣ mamahtâwisiwin, pakosêyimow, nikihci-âniskotâpân by Wanda John-Kehewin came out. This stellar collection of poetry plays with form, space, and language, demonstrating which magics cannot be suppressed. Wanda John-Kehewin “stands in her truth” so that other survivors may stand in theirs.

An excerpt from “Confusion” in Spells, Wishes, and the Talking Dead: ᒪᒪᐦᑖᐃᐧᓯᐃᐧᐣ ᐸᑯᓭᔨᒧᐤ ᓂᑭᐦᒋ ᐋᓂᐢᑯᑖᐹᐣ mamahtâwisiwin, pakosêyimow, nikihci-âniskotâpân:

“I wanted to write about kisêmanitow comma a word that when translated into
English means the Creator of all things period Why is it every time I write
Creator or God or kisêmanitow I feel the burning need to capitalize it *question
mark* Is it because everything important to me has to be capitalized like Mom or
Dad because they left me and left this world too soon or is it because of the rules
of punctuation question mark Or is it because I do not want Creator or God or
kisêmanitow to be angry with me question mark Is capitalizing a way for me to
show their importance as if Creator or God or kisêmanitow would ever sit on
top of St. Joseph’s Hill comma cup of coffee in hand comma reading my poems
to figure out if I always capitalized their earthly names question mark

The second book we’d like to recommend is Standing in a River of Time by Jónína Kirton. This lyric memoir explores the intergenerational effects of colonization on a Métis family. Kirton does not shy away from hard realities, meeting them head on, but always treating them with respect and the love stemming from a lifetime of spiritual healing and decades of sobriety.

An excerpt from “Rooted” in Standing in a River of Time:

“turning towards the invisible
I can see the limits of knowledge
the places where formulas dissolve
into knowing that can only come
when quiet and walking in a forest
where the standing ones watch and wait
for us to return to ourselves
to the new stories that are waiting to unfold”

Conversations with Khahtsahlano, 1932–1954 is an important historical text documenting over twenty years of conversations between Sḵwx̱uwú7mesh Chief X̱ats’alanexw, a.k.a. Chief August Jack Khahtsahlano, and Major J.S. Matthews. Originally published in 1955 by the Vancouver City Archives, Conversations with Khahtsahlano received a limited publication and is reproduced here in facsimile.

Chief X̱ats’alanexw’s reminiscences travel as far back as 1881. He recounts neighbourhood tales, the Traditional Stories he grew up with, local genealogies, cultural histories, and detailed accounts of practices for everything from fishing sturgeon to building houses. Knowledgeable and forthcoming, Chief X̱ats’alanexw’s recollections weave a meticulous tapestry.

Another excellent recent poetry collection is Some People Fall in the Lodge and Then Eat Berries All Winter by writer and visual artist annie ross. This poetry collection gives voice to the pain of living “where the machine is the exalted power.” This new series of prose and poems, anchored by woodcuts by the author, explores extinctions, species interdependence, environmental justice, soul loss in modernity, the natural and Supernatural worlds, and animal rights and power.

An excerpt from “how to cure loneliness” in Some People Fall in the Lodge and Then Eat Berries All Winter:

“tiptoe across melting-Snow street
i ask for a lonely companion to appear

Slush finds her way, entering easily into my shoes
she is unmoved by me but makes me, her – cold, wet
friends are themselves Winter Streams

wet car exhaust darkens my wool coat
proving oil will never be clean
i do not belong here”

They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars is a powerful memoir about her time at St. Joseph’s Mission. Sellars breaks her silence about the residential school’s lasting effects on her and her family—from substance abuse to suicide attempts—and eloquently articulates her own path to healing.

An excerpt from They Called Me Number One:

“When the weather turned cold in the winter, the Oblates had a hard time heating the buildings. During the years my mom was at the Mission, often the dormitory was a few degrees below freezing during the night. Later in life and because of her memories of the cold dormitory in the night, Mom always made sure any kids in the house had extra blankets. She said she knew how awful it was to be cold at night.”

Finally, we are so pleased to announce the forthcoming release of A Family of Dreamers by Samantha Nock. Nock’s first poetry collection delves into the complexities of growing up in rural northeast British Columbia and the love and grief that blooms there. Nock weaves together threads of fat liberation, desirability politics, and heartbreak, while working through her existence as a young Indigenous woman coming of age in the city. She explores the interweaving of trauma and healing, playing with language and connecting to the Lands that raised her in order to challenge colonial narratives. This book is a love song to northern cuzzins, dive bars, and growing up.

An excerpt from A Family of Dreamers:

“i don’t believe in in-between spaces.
i don’t believe in long winded monologues
about walking in two worlds.
my existence isn’t confusion
and trying to reconcile the fact
that i know how to tell when the seasons are changing
by the way leaves hang
with the fact
that i can count time by bus stops.”

It is our greatest delight to work with such phenomenal artists. We are honoured to be able to work on and share these incredible stories, poems, and works with the world.

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