Indigenous Writers Festival celebrates youth
The Manitoba Indigenous Writers Festival is a three-day celebration of indigenous authors and stories, encompassing literature, discussion and debate.
Katherena Vermette is a Governor General's Award-winning poet. She's also one of the organizers of the festival. We asked her what's new this year.
Vermette explained that they are holding most of the events at Neechi Commons on Main Street. Since it opened in the spring, they've been using it for various events and they love the performance space.
They also partnered with a research project that's happening through the Native Studies Department at the University of Manitoba, which focuses on the intergenerational effects of residential schools.
"We were able to bring in the writer and entertainer Richard Van Camp, Joanne Arnott, as well as emerging writers from across the country," explained Vermette.
"Everyone will share their stories, and they are stories that need to be heard."
Last year the focus was on residential schools, while this year it's more about the next generation.
"We established the idea of knowing where we come from, acknowledging the past and how we got here," said Vermette.
"Now we're looking to the future. We're looking at the new voices. We're also looking at the new story that's coming out in indigenous literature."
She said that new story is different for everyone: "A lot of us were children of survivors of residential schools. A lot of us grew up urban, so the story has changed to an urban one," Vermette explained.
"Mostly we're talking about what's next. What does sovereignty mean? What does this solidarity mean?" she continued. "The Idle No More movement is a perfect example of what indigenous people are doing. It's about doing something and getting on with everything."
Vermette wrote her North End Love Songs as an ode to Winnipeg's North End, where she grew up. It's the neighbourhood that she returned to after having her own kids.
"The North End is just a very special place and I think it's a place where so much is happening right now, like the Got Bannock lady!" she said with a smile.
The Manitoba Indigenous Writers Festival kicks off on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 8 p.m. at Neechi Commons, 865 Main Street. It continues until Jan. 18.