The Next Chapter

Shelagh's extended conversation with Tomson Highway (Encore)

Tomson Highway started his life on December 6, 1951, in a tent pitched on a snowbank in the corner of Manitoba that touches both Saskatchewan and Nunavut. He was the eleventh of twelve children, and when he was six Tomson left home to go to residential school. He learned to play the piano there, and went on to study music...
Tomson Highway started his life on December 6, 1951, in a tent pitched on a snowbank in the corner of Manitoba that touches both Saskatchewan and Nunavut. He was the eleventh of twelve children, and when he was six Tomson left home to go to residential school. He learned to play the piano there, and went on to study music at university. At the age of thirty - he decided to write.
Tomson started with plays. His two most famous are  The Rez Sisters and its sequel  Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing. Both plays were critical and box office successes, both won Dora Awards for Best New Play in 1986 and 1989, and both represented a huge break-through for native theatre artists in Canada.  With these plays, Tomson Highway put native drama on the map of Canadian theatre, and earned himself the reputation as Canada's leading aboriginal playwright.

And he didn't stop there. 

Tomson's writing extends beyond plays. He rote the best-selling novel  Kiss of the Fur Queen in 1998, as well as a trilogy of children's books, a Cree opera, and many songs for his cabarets and musicals.

Throughout his work, Tomson hasn't shied away from controversy. He's tackled abuse in residential schools, poverty on reserves as well as misogyny and homophobia in the aboriginal community. But there's no heavy-handedness to his writing because he tells rough truths beautifully, lacing his stories with mythological magic and exuberant humour.

In 1994 Tomson became the first aboriginal writer to receive the Order of Canada. These days Tomson Highway divides his time between France and a lakeside home in the woods close to Sudbury.

We hope you enjoy this extended version of Shelagh's conversation with Tomson Highway.

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