Monday, October 26, 2015

Positive stories, not "poverty porn"

  Image from Tracey Lindberg
Still thinking about the wonderful panel on Saturday at the Vancouver Writers Fest. Aboriginal writers Tracey Lindberg, Marilyn Dumont and Wab Kinew shared hilarious moments and profound thoughts.

The overall message was positive and hopeful. Enough, said these authors, of the "poverty porn" stories about the terrible suffering of aboriginal peoples. Instead we need to look for inspiring stories, full of hope and success.

Said Tracey, we need to find ways reach for and mobilize the women who are "holding the world together" on the reserves.

In old aboriginal teachings, a leader is humble; citizens are the boss. We need to become more inclusive, focus on the voices that are not getting heard.

The question period brought an interesting challenge. When audience members asked what the panelists were going to do to move forward, Marilyn quite rightly turned the question back. "What are you going to do?" she wondered.

This is my answer. Since June, I've evolved a small personal plan. Inspired originally by a talk by James Bartleman at the 2015 Canadian Authors conference in Orillia, I've decided to send some inspiring books by some of Canada's many talented Aboriginal authors to children in fly-in communities in northern Ontario, where astonishingly, there are no libraries.

Signed works by these three authors will definitely be in the mix, as well as some by Richard Wagamese that I bought and had him sign at the Sidney and Peninsula Literary Festival. I'll include something by Joseph Boyden too.

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