Monday, 15 December 2014

Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters

This year, due to circumstances beyond their control, the Revue will attempt to fill the largest room in its history for a “star-studded” charity event to raise awareness for missing and murdered aboriginal women, which will also serve as the launch of a significant new anthology featuring many of the country’s finest writers. It is the most ambitious – and important – show in the Revue’s history. “We’ve never done anything quite like this before,” Collett says. ...

On Thursday, at the Basement Revue, Boyden will launch Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters, an anthology featuring the work of more than 50 writers, musicians, artists and activists. (“Kwe” is Anishinaabe for “woman” or “life-giver,” explains Boyden.) Contributors include Ondaatje, Atwood, Thomas King, Sherman Alexie, Gord Downie, Michael Crummey and Tanya Tagaq Gillis. The 100-page book is published by Penguin Canada, which covered the entire cost of production. A limited number of print editions will sell for $10, while a digital version, available from all major online retailers beginning Dec. 16, will cost $2.99. All proceeds will be donated to Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters project.

“This anthology came from my absolute sadness, shock, anger and horror that this is going on and nobody’s really speaking about it,” Boyden says. The fact so many people responded to his call, he says, “gives me great confidence and faith in where we’re going as a nation.”

link to pre-order

Press release:
Penguin Releases Limited-Edition Anthology Edited by Joseph Boyden, Supporting Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters

Monday, December 15, 2014—Penguin Canada is pleased to announce the publication of Kwe: Standing With Our Sisters, a 100-page anthology edited by Joseph Boyden, featuring new writing and original artwork from more than fifty contributors, including Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Gord Downie, Julie Flett, Tom King, Lee Maracle, Yann Martel, Michael Ondaatje, John Ralston Saul, and Tanya Tagaq Gillis. Conceived by Boyden as a way to raise awareness of the crisis facing Canada’s First Nations women, all proceeds from the sale of Kwe will be donated to Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters initiativeThe anthology will be available in digital format for $2.99 via major online retailers beginning December 16. A limited print edition will be available at The Basement Revue in Toronto on December 18 and via the Amnesty International Book Club ( in January for $10 each.

“The idea for this book was born in November, from feelings of deep frustration, anger, and sorrow in the wake of yet another violent assault upon a First Nations woman,” says Boyden. “It came together quickly; within a week of the call going out, we had dozens of submissions from writers and artists eager to support the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, artists who wanted to lend their voice. This is a call for action. We're part of a rising chorus in this nation that demands that the federal government respond in a real way. I hope this collection draws much needed attention to the crisis and shows we can act swiftly when we put our minds to it.”

“I’m proud to stand alongside Joseph and Kwe’s contributors in support of Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters initiative,” says Nicole Winstanley, President and Publisher of Penguin Canada. “Violence against Canada’s Indigenous women cannot be ignored. I hope this project will inspire others to raise their voice and speak out against the horrific crimes that continue occur all too often in our country.”

Penguin Canada is contributing all production and print costs to the anthology.

About Amnesty International
Founded in 1961, Amnesty International is a global movement of more than three million supporters, members, and activists in over 150 countries who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Our vision is for all people to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. Violence against women is unacceptable in every instance. In the case of Indigenous women and girls, the specific patterns of violence, and the disproportionate numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, require a comprehensive and coordinated response. Beginning with the landmark 2004 Stolen Sisters report, Amnesty International has stood alongside Indigenous women’s organizations across Canada in supporting calls for a public inquiry and  a national plan of action in keeping with the scale and severity of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

About Penguin Canada
Penguin Canada (, founded in 1974 and celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is one of Canada’s pre-eminent trade publishers, publishing and distributing a wide range of literary, thought-provoking fiction, non-fiction, lifestyle, and children’s books. Penguin Canada’s imprints include Viking, Hamish Hamilton, Allen Lane, Penguin, Portfolio Penguin, Puffin, and Razorbill. Under these imprints, Penguin Canada proudly publishes an award-winning list of Canadian authors, including Scotiabank Giller Prize winners Joseph Boyden, Will Ferguson, and Johanna Skibsrud, as well as Stuart McLean, Bobby Orr, Guy Gavriel Kay, Eric Walters, John Ralston Saul, and Adrienne Clarkson. Penguin Canada also publishes and distributes a number of celebrated international authors, including Philip Roth, Zadie Smith, John le Carré, Khaled Hosseini, Kathryn Stockett, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Ken Follett.

For more information, please contact

Beth Lockley
VP, Marketing & Publicity
Penguin Canada

Stephen Myers
Marketing and Publicity Manager, Hamish Hamilton
Penguin Canada

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

MediaIndigena's first podcast, Clearing the Plains

MediaIndigena's first podcast brings both history and current realities into sharp focus, the impact is both engaging and deeply moving. For full introduction and context, visit MediaIndigena's podcast page:

PODCAST: One-on-One with “Clearing The Plains” Author James Daschuk

by  on  

The first half of the conversation is one-on-one, and then the conversation opens out to include diverse questions from the audience.

A little over an hour in length, and well worth every moment.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

John Asfour

John Asfour photo by Rawi Hage

John's books [visit]

2012 CBC interview with John Asfour [listen]

Love notes:

Elegy, John Mikhail Asfour, Cousin + Poet, Halim Ina

vid one John Asfour  poetry in english

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Goddess in the New World: Images of Mary

Our Lady of Saint John of the Lakes
José Aragón (active 1820-1835), Santa Fe, ca. 1825. Oil on canvas.

Our Lady of the Lote Tree
Melchor Pérez Holguín (active 1694-1724), Potosí, Bolivia, 1716. Oil on canvas.
“The people who made these paintings were moved by their faith,” Díaz said. “Even though many of them were struggling to exist, they made these wonderful works of art. And they give us glimpses of New World settings. You see Native peoples in their traditional clothes appear. We see mountains typical of Potosi, Bolivia. We see parrots and turkeys. And we experience the love of freedom in form and color found in the baroque style that New World artists often took to the extreme, with canvases exploding in decorative details and layers of iconography.”

read more:
Painting the Divine: Images of Mary in the New World

"Painting the Divine includes works from Spain’s three colonial capitals: Peru, Mexico and New Mexico."
More of the featured paintings/source for images + text:

Painting the Divine: Images of Mary in the New World

Friday, 21 November 2014

A moon made of copper

A moon made of copper

Thursday, 20 November 2014

First Book!

The many writers whooshing through the fair was in itself amazing, all kinds of writers and all genres. In the FNMI Circle we presented a new offering every hour through the whole weekend. We received many compliments on the lodge or livingroom we developed for the First Nations, Metis, & Inuit Circle author presentations, and many who came stayed, for the sheer joy of hearing from authors from many different traditions and at many different stages in their careers.

The First Book! panel was hosted by Jacqueline Guest, YA author of many books, most recently The Comic Book War. Four writers, each of whom was celebrating their first book, shared their stories...

Reneltta Arluk (poetry) received a call for submissions, via Richard Van Camp. She photocopied her whole stash of poetic writings, and shipped them off. About two months later, she received a letter: some of these are very good, but, some we cannot read at all. Would you be able to type them up and re-submit? Whoa, good idea! So she types up the pile of poems and sends it in again, and about two months after that, she received an offer to publish. Her book, Thoughts and Other Human Tendencies, was edited and published soon after, and has been translated into Cree, and will soon be available in French as well. 

Frank C Busch (novel) got an arts degree, but ended up working in financial fields, he describes himself as a (young) business man. TRC was looking for people with financial background to interview residential school survivors, and so he interviewed some 800 people about this most sorrowful aspect of their lives. He felt he needed to do something with this energy, but, he could not write the stories he'd heard, they were not his stories to tell. What he heard from the survivors was, "I want my culture back," so, with permission of his elders and nation, he wrote an adventure story that is steeped in his Cree culture. In looking for a publisher, he eliminated all those who required paper submissions, because he wanted a publisher that is comfortable in the online world and computer era. He wrote a book proposal, submitting summary and sample chapters. He said, "my proposal was hardly about the book at all, it was all about the marketing plan...." His novel, conceived as the first in a series, is called Grey Eyes.

Lisa Bird-Wilson (short stories) developed and polished her stories at university, and worked with a writers group to perfect them (alongside her self confidence). She was very downhearted with the art the publisher reccommended for her book cover, and she gathered her courage and took him to task: what about this cover art says this is an indigenous book? This is an indigenous book and i want people to know that, right up front! They agreed upon using a portrait by an indigenous artist, and doubled the image to make a very beautiful, eye-catching cover. Her book and stories won many awards and nominations, and she is most proud of the book cover on Just Pretending.

Cara-Lynn Morgan (poetry) likewise was at university, and followed the advice of a teacher-mentor to do a multiple submission (generally considered not a cool thing to do): yes, some rejected her work on that basis, but, she also connected with the publishing house that she needed. Although she was living in Victoria BC, she felt her work like her roots were a Saskatchewan story, and so she focussed on SK presses. Thistledown published her first collection, What Became My Grieving Ceremony.

Four first books, four different paths to publication. Here are the books:

Grey Eyes – Fernwood Publishing

Coteau Books - Just Pretending

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

First Nations, Metis, Inuit Circle @ InspireTIBF

JB photo
Inspire photo
Sidewalk Crusaders Inspire photo
Michael Kusugak Inspire photo

Reneltta Arluk Inspire photo

Lindsay Marshall Inspire photo
Lee Maracle Inspire photo

Political Panel Inspire photo
Monique Gray Smith Inspire photo
Waubgeshig Rice Inspire photo

Joanne Arnott JB photo

Paul Seesequasis Inspire photo 
Frank Christopher Busch  ~  book signings @ GoodMinds booth
 Inspire photo

Roy Henry Vickers & Robert "Lucky" Budd  Inspire photo
Cat Crieger & Roy Henry Vickers  FNMI Closing Circle Inspire photo

 John Barlow dropped by and shared a few pics (JB photos)

FNMI Working Group: Joanne Arnott, Paul Seesequasis, Reneltta Arluk
JB photo