Joseph Boyden edits new anthology highlighting plight of First Nations women

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Sometimes, lamentable and heinous acts bring people together. For author Joseph Boyden, it was yet another violent assault on a First Nations woman that first angered him, but then inspired him to reach out to fellow artists and thinkers.

The inspiration led to the new anthology Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters, which features new writing and original artwork by more than 50 contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Gord Downie, Thomas King, Lee Maracle, and Yann Martel.

Boyden recently spoke to Metro Morning about the project.

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Boyden, a major Canadian literary star who has previously won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Canada Reads, put the call out for submissions in November and was encouraged by the positive response.

"It came together quickly; within a week of the call going out, we had dozens of submissions from writers and artists eager to support the families of missing and murdered indigenous women, artists who wanted to lend their voice," Boyden said. "This is a call for action. We're part of a rising chorus in this nation that demands that the federal government respond in a real way."

Penguin Canada covered the production costs of the anthology, and all proceeds from the sales are being donated to Amnesty International's No More Stolen Sisters initiative. Kwe will be available for $2.99 from major book retailers starting December 16, while a limited print edition will be sold at the launch in Toronto and online through the Amnesty International Book Club in January.

"I hope this collection draws much needed attention to the crisis and shows we can act swiftly when we put our minds to it," Boyden said.

This fall, the RCMP confirmed there are nearly 1,200 police-recorded incidents of aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing-women investigations across the country