Zoey Roy first Indigenous author to participate in NAC's #CanadaPerforms
Last month, the National Arts Centre launched Canada Performs, an initiative that pays musicians to perform from their living rooms. It was created as a way to keep Canadians self-isolating at home, entertained.
Shortly after launching the initiative, NAC announced it would also be open to writers, giving them a platform to share their work with audiences.
Zoey Roy is a Dene, Cree and Métis poet from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, and she was the first Indigenous author to take part in the initiative. Roy gave an intimate poetry performance from her living room in Kingston.
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"I was so nervous going into it, and then I was there and I was in it — it was so fun," said Roy.
Originally when she applied for Canada Performs, she expected not to get in.
"My mentor … suggested that I do it, and I really thought, I can try but I'm probably going to get a no," said Roy.
"I really wanted to perform, I wanted to give it a shot. I've lost so many jobs, I have no work in the foreseeable future."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Roy has turned to poetry to help her cope with isolation.
"It's helped a lot, I need some sort of release. I think you can only go for so many walks, you can only watch so many series, at the end of the day, you're still isolated," said Roy.
"It has to go somewhere ... there's so many parts of this pandemic that make you feel different."
And she is trying to focus on the positive in her writing, choosing to write about the arrival of spring.
"I'm so inspired by the trees, the animals, the way the earth is regenerating right now is so inspiring to me," said Roy.
In addition to writing, turning to some of her favourite writers is helping Roy feel connected.
Currently on her reading list is Dancing on the Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle.
"When I read Leanne or Jesse, I feel super inspired to write … and that's another thing to be grateful for, that we have these authors, that we have these [Indigenous] voices," said Roy.