BIG NAMES. SRO EVENT. SPONSORED BY RBC TAYLOR PRIZE
|RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction Spotlight: We Were Here First with Thomas King, Lee Maracle, Samual Watson and Waubgeshig Rice.|
The Friday evening book event was an integral part of the closing weekend of Harbourfront's International Festival of Authors. The festival, now in its 35th year, brings the world's biggest names in literature to a number of Harbourfront stages along Toronto's waterfront.
The Friday night panel had two famed two Canadian First Nation writers - RBC Taylor Prize 2014 winner Thomas King (The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America) and West Coast writer Lee Maracle (Celia’s Song) sharing notes with two Australian Indigenous writers - Samuel Wagan Watson (Smoke Encrypted Whispers) and Ellen van Neerven (Heat and Light, winner of the 2013 David Unaipon Award).
|Thomas King signs his book, His wife Helen Hoy watches on|
The two Australian authors have roots in the community of the native indigenous people of Beaudesert in the Queensland region on Australia. Both agreed with King that it is the stories of their people's land that inspires and motivates indigenous writers.
The onstage IFOA conversation, presented by the Taylor Prize, was also part of Planet IndigenUS -- a programme that gives prominence to the voices, stories and cultures of Indigenous people. This project is assisted by the Australian Government.
Lee Maracle has been published in anthologies and scholarly journals worldwide, and is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels and works of non-fiction. She was born in North Vancouver and is a member of the Stó:lō Nation. Maracle's latest novel, Celia’s Song, chronicles one Native family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.
The moderator at the IFOA event was CBC’s Waubgeshig Rice (right), video journalist in Ottawa. An Anishinaabe from Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, Waub believes that staying true to his roots has been key in his success as a journalist and published author.
Ellen van Neerven is a writer of Aboriginal and Dutch descent whose work has appeared in many publications, including The Best of McSweeney’s, Voiceworks and Review of Australian Fiction.
She currently lives in Brisbane where she works as an editor for the black&write! project at the State Library of Queensland. Van Neerven presents her debut novel and the winner of the 2013 David Unaipon Award, Heat and Light. Divided into three sections, it is inspired by the intersection of familial history, location and identity, and takes readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.