Shelagh's extended conversation with Eden Robinson (Encore)

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From the moment Eden Robinson burst onto the literary scene, she established a reputation as an unflinching writer.  Her debut novel Monkey Beach was nominated for the Giller Prize and, like much of her work, it is a frank, engrossing portrayal contemporary life in Haisla territory.  But in her recent extended essay The Sasquatch at Home, Eden says there are some places she just won't go in her writing.

 

Eden Robinson lives in Kitamaat Village, B.C. and is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations.  Her published work includes Traplines, Monkey Beach, and Blood Sports

Though her fiction is steeped in Haisla culture, there is certain material Eden doesn't touch.  Sometimes it's a question of access: some aspects of Haisla culture are sacred and governed by strict, exacting rules about what can and cannot be shared.  Sometimes it's a question of jumping hoops: some stories can only be made public if the 'Haisla copyright' is acquired, usually by throwing an elaborate, expensive feast.  And sometimes her reticence to write about certain topics is a question of emotional strength and maturity: Eden's response to subjects like residential school is still too raw and unprocessed to channel into her fiction.

And yet, despite those obstacles, Eden's dream is to share the Haisla stories and culture that so fully capture her heart and imagination.

Shelagh and Eden had a fascinating conversation about reconciling traditional protocols with modern storytelling, but they also talked about the evolution of aboriginal writing in Canada over the past couple of decades, Eden's current work with the Haisla supernatural characters, and what it's like to be a writer in Kitamat right now with the proposed Enbridge terminus and liquified natural gas projects both uniting and dividing the community.

Their conversation was too long to play in its entirety on The Next Chapter but too fascinating not to share.  Here it is, complete and unedited.

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