Storykeepers: Let's Talk Indigenous Books is a monthly podcast hosted by Jennifer David and Waubgeshig Rice. Each episode, they're joined by a guest host to discuss books by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit authors.
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
This month Jennifer and Waubgeshig are joined by Ry Moran, the Associate University Librarian – Reconciliation at the University of Victoria to talk about Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Published in 2020, the novel follows five residential school survivors from their detention in the institutions into their adulthood, as they embark to heal from the trauma of their experiences. The book has won several awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and CBC's Canada Reads.
National Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
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Ry Moran is Canada’s inaugural Associate University Librarian – Reconciliation at the University of Victoria. Ry’s role within UVic Libraries’ focuses on building and sustaining relationships to introduce Indigenous approaches and knowledge into the daily work of the Libraries and more broadly across the campus community. In so doing, Ry plays an active role in advancing UVic’s strategic goal of being a globally recognized leader in areas of reconciliation.
Ry came to this position from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted by the University of Manitoba. As the founding director, Ry guided the creation of the NCTR from its inception. Along the way, Ry contributed to major national initiatives such as the creation of the National Student Memorial Register, designation of multiple residential schools as national historical sites, development and launch of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, and a major educational broadcast which reached over three million Canadians.
Prior to the NCTR, Ry served with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). On the TRC’s behalf, he facilitated the gathering of nearly 7,000 video/audio-recorded statements of former residential school students and millions of pages archival records.
Ry’s life-long passion for the arts and music continues to be an important part of his life as he continues to write and produce original music.
Ry is a distinguished alumni of the University of Victoria and was awarded a Meritorious Service Cross by the Governor General. Ry is a proud member of the Red River Métis.
The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir by Duncan McCue
We're very pleased to welcome journalist Lenny Carpenter to the show this month to talk about Duncan McCue's The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir. Lenny chatted with Jennifer about his journalism background and upbringing in the James Bay region and how he related with McCue's book. The Shoe Boy is a coming-of-age memoir that documents the renowned journalist's time as a teen on the east side of James Bay.
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Lenny Carpenter is an Omushkego (Swampy Cree) writer based in Timmins, Ont. He is a member of Attawapiskat First Nation raised in the James Bay community of Moosonee. Lenny has experience in journalism, primarily as a reporter and editor/publisher with Wawatay News covering First Nations in northern Ontario. He has experience in media development from when he was the Indigenous Reporters Program manager with Journalists for Human Rights. The program was aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous voices in Canadian media and educating non-Indigenous media on improving their coverage. Lenny is a graduate of the Film Production program at Confederation College and was the festival director of the B’iindigaate Indigenous Film Festival in 2013.
Lenny is currently a Gladue writer with Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services, producing Gladue reports for members of Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities facing sentencing.
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott
Six Nations of the Grand River is in the spotlight this month with a compelling discussion about Alicia Elliott's highly acclaimed essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. Writer, researcher, and policy expert Courtney Skye of Six Nations joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig to discuss the book's poignant themes and exploration of contemporary Indigenous realities. Elliott's collection garnered several accolades when it was first published in 2019.
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Courtney has led policy development for the public sector at local, provincial, and national levels, with a specific focus on youth development and ending violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. Her work focuses on the promotion of the political mobilization of Indigenous women, Trans, non-Binary and Two-Spirit people to create transformational change in communities.
Her work focuses on re-imagining traditional approaches to policy development in order to meet the diverse needs of Indigenous communities. Her past projects include creating a framework for youth development, a strategy co-developed with Indigenous partners to transform the governance, design, and delivery of child and family services, and a strategy to end violence against Indigenous women.
Courtney is passionate about making sure communities are heard in policy development, and strives to end all forms of colonial violence experienced by Indigenous peoples by entrenching deep commitment to rights and jurisdiction.
Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning
For April's episode, Jennifer is joined by the multi-talented stage and literary artist Reneltta Arluk to talk about the award-winning short story collection Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning. Published in 2021, the book's six stories focus on contemporary Inuk characters, drawn from lived experience and cultural memory. The collection won the Governor General's Award for English-language Fiction in 2021.
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Reneltta Arluk is Dene and Inuvialuit from the Northwest Territories. She is a graduate of the BFA-Acting program from the University of Alberta and founder of Akpik Theatre, a professional Indigenous Theatre company in the NWT. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, being raised in a nomadic environment gave Reneltta the skills to become the artist she is now. For over ten years Reneltta has been part of or initiated the creation of Indigenous Theatre across various parts of Canada and overseas as an actor, storyteller, writer and producer. “Keeping Culture Alive,” as her mom would say. She is currently the Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
Métis scholar Celiese Lypka joins Jennifer and Waubgeshig this month to explore Cherie Dimaline's bestselling novel Empire of Wild. Published in 2019, the story follows a Métis woman in search of her missing husband in the face of mysterious and oppressive forces. Dimaline has received numerous accolades for her writing, and the New York Times has named her one of the "Indigenous novelists reshaping North American science fiction, horror and fantasy."
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Celiese Lypka is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and lives in Treaty 1 territory, where she has spent most of her life and is now raising her wonderful and wild four-year-old daughter. She is an Assistant Professor of English in the Centre for Humanities at Athabasca University, teaching women’s writing and Indigenous literatures. Her recent work focuses on Métis women’s storytelling as modes of Indigenous resurgence and decolonial love.
Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing by Tomson Highway
This month Ojibway playwright, author, and television host Drew Hayden Taylor joins Jennifer to talk about Tomson Highway's classic play Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing. First staged in 1989, the award-winning drama is widely considered one of the most influential theatrical works in history.
Also in this episode, Waubgeshig explains his role on the jury for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which will take him away from Storykeepers occasionally this year.
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A necessary and enjoyable show
This is one of my favourite podcasts ever. I cannot believe I have never been taught any of these books in high school or in undergraduate studies in Canada. Here I learned so much about this vital part of Canadian literature and culture, and I am very thankful for this. The episodes are also fun to listen to with lively hosts and great guests, it feels like I’m hanging out with them in the living room :D A must listen!
I have really been enjoying this podcast. I have been reading each book along the hosts and it is great to hear the insightful discussion from both hosts about the books we are reading. It has introduced many new books to me.
The Roots of Contemporary Written Indigenous Literature
Such a significant book for Indigenous literature. I’m pleased to hear that you started with the iconic, super-brave and heroic of Maria Campbell back when she wrote the book, and with the release of her updated edition. Both a must get for any Indigenous library collection.