Author Lisa Moore says, “Michelle Porter’s Scratching River is both a reckoning and an elegy; a scathing, powerful roar against social injustice, the scars of trauma, climate crisis, environmental damage and, at the very same time, a love song to the power of family, Métis history, rivers, Bison, burdock, and the Métis storyteller and musician, Louis Goulet, who is her great-great-grandfather’s brother.”
Michelle Porter's first novel will be published by Penguin Canada in 2023. Her first book of poetry, Inquiries, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award in 2019 and was a finalist for the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award in 2021. Her previous non-fiction book, Approaching Fire (2020), in which she embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler and performer Léon Robert Goulet, was shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Awards 2021. She is a citizen of the Métis Nation and member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.
Trevor Corkum: Scratching River is a powerful read, a memoir about your brother, a river, a Métis ancestor and relations among all things. It’s a braided narrative grounded in the richness of relationships and the resilience of life. Can you talk more about when and how you began to work on the project?
Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, by Evelyn Peters, Adrian Werner and Matthew Stock, documents a history of Indigenous urban experience in the Métis community of Rooster Town on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg. In this list, Peters shares other works that explore the important colonial history of First Nations and Métis communities within urban areas in Canada.
In 1901, sixteen Métis households moved into southwest Winnipeg joining six Métis families who had moved there a few years before. They squatted on unserviced lots which had reverted to the City of Winnipeg for unpaid taxes. While the settlement contracted slightly during the Great Depression, Rooster Town grew every year until in 1946 the community reached its maximum size of 59 households, with an estimated population of more the 250 people. Poverty and unstable employment meant that squatting or buying inexpensive land on the city fringe, and self-building, was a resilient strategy for accessing urban employment and services and providing housing for families.
Poverty and unstable employment meant that squatting or buying inexpensive land on the city fringe, and self-building, was a resilient strategy for accessing urban employment and services and providing housing fo …
Next up on The Chat, we speak to Carleigh Baker, author of the sensational short story collection Bad Endings, a finalist for the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
Of the collection, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize jury said, “In Bad Endings, Carleigh Baker has created a skillfully woven tapestry of stories, centred on strong, contemporary female characters battling for agency over their own lives .… These stories are not about happy endings—they are about powerful endings, and we found them nothing short of electrifying.”
Carleigh Baker is a Cree-Métis/Icelandic writer. She was born and raised on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Stó:lō people. Her first collection of stories, Bad Endings, won the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2017 and is a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She won the Lush Triumphant award for short fiction in 2012, and her work has also appeared in Best Canadian Essays, and The Journey Prize Anthology. She writes book reviews for The Globe and Mail, The Literary Revi …
For our first Chat of 2017, we turn to poetry and consider the themes of witnessing and reconciliation. I’m in conversation with 2016 Writers’ Trust of Canada Latner Poetry Prize winner Gregory Scofield, whose most recent collection, Witness, I Am, explores the lives and stories of some of Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The Latner jury wrote, in part, “For seven collections of poetry, Gregory Scofield has impressed us with his memorable lyrics and keen eye for the finer details. His forms embrace the musical, the documentary, and the experimental in a vision of risk and generosity ... He has courage to let us in, and the patience to help us understand.”
Gregory Scofield is Red River Métis of Cree, Scottish and European descent whose ancestry can be traced to the fur trade and to the Métis community of Kinesota, Manitoba. He has taught First Nations and Métis Literature and Creative Writing at Brandon University, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and the Alberta College of Art + Design. He currently holds the position …
This week, I’m chatting with Katherena Vermette, author of the extraordinary debut novel The Break. The book was recently shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award and has been receiving rave reviews across the country.
The Globe and Mail calls The Break “an incredible feat of storytelling.” The National Post says “Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year and one of the best.”
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. In addition to winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, her first book, North End Love Songs, is the 2015 selection for Manitoba’s provincial book club, On the Same Page. Vermette has recently been shortlisted for the inaugural Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award. Her work has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies across the globe. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University …
Danielle Daniel's Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox is one of the most gorgeous releases of the season. At first glance, an uncommonly beautiful book about animals and feelings, it's also an introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, with Daniel's author's note explaining the tradition further. A most intriguing premise, and oh, those illustrations. So we got in touch with Danielle Daniel to learn a bit more about her work.
49th Shelf: There is a universality in your book’s message. Every child can identify with trying on different emotions and identities, and kids relate to animals so well—perhaps their literature trains them to? But you are also teaching something very specific in your story, about Anishinaabe totem animals. How did you decide that this was a story you wanted to tell?
Danielle Daniel: I know this might sound hokey, but I think this story chose me. When the creative muse hits like a lightning bolt, you can decide to pay attention and listen or pass. When you pass, I believe the idea moves on to someone else who is more receptive. I’m so happy I gave in and proceeded to paint what was calling and finally write the accompanied text, after the paintings returned home from Québec. This was also at a time where I aspired to help …
June is National Aboriginal History Month in Canada, and we've got some excellent features coming up to mark it, including a booklist by our resident Children's Librarian, and also an interview with acclaimed Métis short story writer Lisa Bird-Wilson (whose Just Pretending is shortlisted for the 2014 Danuta Gleed Award). But in the meantime, this seems like a great opportunity to bring together the great content we've featured already on books written by or about Canada's First Peoples.
UPDATE FOR 2015: