7th Annual Indigenous Writers Gathering
By: Christine Smith McFarlane
Toronto: On June 9 & 10, 2016, the 7th Annual Indigenous Writers Gathering took place in the heart of downtown Toronto. With topics like Cultural Preservation through Story; Fiction and Non Fiction as Tools for Survival featuring Leanne Simpson, Lee Maracle and Waubgeshig Rice, Frankenstein’s Method: Building Characters that Come Alive workshop with Joseph Boyden and Waubgeshig Rice and an open mic reading night that was open to the public on the first day at Glad Day Bookshop, attendance was out of this world.
In the Building Characters Workshop, Joseph Boyden and Waubgeshig Rice told audience members amongst other things to “allow your characters to go where they need to go and let the story shape your character. Don’t be afraid to break the clichés and most of all challenge yourself, if it feels easy, do something a little different than what you would normally do.”
On June 10, 2016, the celebration of writers continued with two workshops titled Traditional Stories: What Do They Need from Us at this time in History and Articulating Memories of the Land Through Music and Multimedia workshops featuring Leanne Simpson and Susan Blight.
The 7th Annual Indigenous Writer’s Gathering ended with Honouring the Grandparents of Indigenous Literature: Lee Maracle and Thomas King. This honouring was hosted by Joseph Boyden and featured pow wow dancers, drummers, authors and some other very special guests like the Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Minister David Zimmer. When asked how it felt to be honoured Maracle said “It can’t get any better than this.”