Vancouver toasted Pauline Johnson last night, at the first of two EPJ events this weekend, curated by Janet Marie Rogers and hosted by Herstory Cafe. The evening began with a Thanksgiving address, beautifully spoken.
On the centenary of her death, the question arose-- what was her father's name? Was he full-blood or mixed blood? While this was researched via ipod, Janet continued with her powerpoint and poetry presentations, culminating in the Toast.
The second set featured a fine performance of Garry Gottfriedson's Dangerous Words: The Trio, Archibald (Grey Owl) performed by Michelle Sylliboy, Pauline by Janet Rogers, and DC Scott by Garry Gottfriedson.
Today's event features a gathering and performance at the Pauline Johnson Memorial, Stanley Park. Happy birthday, EPauline!
|EPJ lyrics ~ A Toast to Vancouver|
"As a Chief in the Confederacy Council, George's role as an intermediary between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures was greatly valued.
George worked first as an interpreter for the Anglican mission at the Six Nations and later as the government interpreter in the Six Nations Confederacy Council.
For most of his life, he straddled both worlds and worked to create understanding between them.
"It was while working as an interpreter for the Tuscarora Parsonage that he met, and fell in love with Emily.
They became engaged, but kept it a secret for five years before announcing their intent to marry.
The news came as a shock to their families and communities, as society was not yet accustomed to the idea of interracial marriages.
They wed in a private ceremony on August 27, 1853, and continued to live at the Tuscarora Parsonage while their new home was being constructed.
George and Emily moved into Chiefswood National Historic with their two children, Henry Beverly Johnson and Helen Charlotte Eliza Johnson, in December of 1856. ...
"The Johnson family would grow to include two more children, Allen Wawanosh Johnson, and famed poetess E. Pauline Johnson also known as Tekahionwake.
They would stay at Chiefswood until George H.M. Johnson's passing in 1884.
After Johnson was buried at Mohawk Chapel, the family moved to nearby Brantford, Ontario into smaller quarters."
To read full article Johnson Family (excerpt) + for more,
Chiefswood National Historic Site, Where Cultures Meet
E. Pauline Johnson Research at the NMAI, by Janet Rogers (2012)
It was a busy day, yesterday, beginning at 6 am to journey north, to meet up with Wil George and Michelle and zoom along eastward on a fine spring morning, up the valley to Mission, and the 6th Mission Readers & Writers Festival. En route we spoke about Chief Dan George and Rita Joe, and later, in my somewhat bumbling keynote, I introduced the Chief then began to present a poem by Rita, thus merging the two elder poets of the west and the east, for one surprising moment.
The festival unfolded with a good mix of performance and workshops, and the sense of unity built through the day. As a cross-fertilizing and cross-mentoring gathering, as an alliance-building event between readers and writers, and between indigenous and non-indigenous literati, it was a success.
My thanks again, to the whole of the gathering. I enjoyed hosting the Ancestors workshop, and in Wil's Metaphors, Symbols, Archetypes workshop, I discovered that home is a berry bramble for me-- though not for everyone-- and that my dreams are important to me, deeply rooted.
In our collective project of developing our ancestral senses of self, and becoming truly at ease with one another, finding our realms of common interest and celebration, healing rifts and developing trust, it was a beautiful day.
In an unusual cast-your-fate-to-the-wind moment, i decided to carry along with the energized Michelle and Janet, on to the revolving nightclub with views of Stanley Park, the harbour, the territories of the Tsleil Watuth, Musqueam and Squamish peoples, Pauline's final stomping and paddling grounds, all lit up by the urban architextures of today, where the ocean and the forests are recognized by the swathes of natural darkness. I had the pleasure of sitting quietly beside Janet's mum, my space was one of restful contentment, no syllables left. We listened to the keys and the words and the voice of multi-award winning bluesman Murray Porter, late into the night.
Something we listened to in the car:
The Lumineers, uploaded 11 March 2012