Community·LECTURE

Tomson Highway explores life through laughter in 2022 CBC Massey Lectures in St. John's, Sept. 9

Cree artist Tomson Highway will deliver this year's CBC Massey Lectures to audiences across Canada in the series's first live event since 2019.

Lectures will take place in 5 cities and be broadcast on CBC Radio's IDEAS this fall

poster for Massey Lectures man laughing with hand up to his face
Cree artist Tomson Highway will deliver this year's CBC Massey Lectures to audiences across Canada in the series's first live event since 2019.


The 2022 CBC Massey lectures are titled Laughing with the Trickster: On Sex, Death and Accordions. The lecture will be held at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall, Memorial University, St. John's on Sept. 9.

Trickster is zany, ridiculous  – and wise. The mythic figure in many First Nations tales is the ultimate, over-the-top, madcap lunatic. Here to remind us that the reason for existence is to have a blast, and to laugh ourselves silly. Ever the trickster, Tomson Highway brings his signature irreverence to an exploration of five themes central to the human condition: language, creation, sex and gender, humour, and death.

An exhilarating tour through Christian, Classical, and Cree mythologies reveals how they have given form and substance to Western thought, life, and culture. Yet Indigenous mythologies provide unique, timeless solutions to our modern problems. Tomson Highway offers generous personal anecdotes, including ones of his beloved accordion-playing father, and plentiful Trickster stories as guides through crises such as climate change, economic disparity, racial intolerance, and all-out unhappiness.

Laughter is medicine. Within the endless circle of life in Indigenous mythologies, the Earth is a garden of joy unlimited. A world we must protect as the birthright of future generations. Laugh with the legendary Tomson Highway as he illuminates a healing, hilarious way forward.

Tomson Highway

Man smiling with hand up to his face
Tomson Highway will deliver Massey Lectures in five cities including the D.F. Cook Recital Hall, Memorial University, St. John's on Sept. 9. (Sean Howard)
TOMSON HIGHWAY is a Cree author, playwright, and musician. His memoir, Permanent Astonishment, won the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. He also wrote the plays The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, the bestselling novel Kiss of the Fur Queen, and the books Caribou SongDragon Fly Kites, and Fox on the Ice.  Tomson Highway is a member of the Barren Lands First Nation and lives in Gatineau, Quebec.

Lecture dates:

Tickets will be available in the first week of August at the respective venues.  Watch for a pre-sale this week.

Laughing with the Trickster: On Sex, Death and Accordions will be broadcast on CBC Radio's IDEAS and CBC Listen in November 2022, and available as a book from House of Anansi Press.

The CBC Massey Lectures is a partnership between CBC, House of Anansi Press and Massey College in the University of Toronto.

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