Simpson taking a second to take a picture with a couple of her biggest fans at Dawson College. Left to right: Diana Rice, Lylee Horn, Michele Smith, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Kahenientha Cross, Sage Goodleaf, Pauline Morel and Tiawentinon Canadian. (Kahenientha Cross, The Eastern Door)
Indigenizing literature is something I hold close to my heart. It is what drives me, and I’m sure many other writers, to forever continue to improve our writing.
Thomas King, Jeannette Armstrong, Drew Hayden Taylor, Moe Clark and many more are paving the path for the next generation of Indigenous writers.
Putting their foot in the door for us green sprouts to flourish through the gateway of North American literature, crushing anyone who dares hinder our journey.
The passive aggressiveness of King’s The Inconvenient Indian and Moe Clark’s kick-ass vocals in so many songs are nourishment for the minds of young, struggling Indigenous writes.
Any reader or burgeoning writer appreciates the humorous and flowing work by the eloquent goddess Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.
I just so happened to witness her most recent presentation at Dawson College for Onkwakara, a series of talks by exclusively Indigenous artists.
Onkwakara is a collaborative project with Dawson’s Peace Centre and the First Peoples Centre, a much-appreciated effort from the two student resources.
Once a month, for the rest of the school year at the CEGEP, there will be an Indigenous artist who will visit the college for a presentation following the theme of Onkwakara; storytelling.
Simpson chose four pieces, consisting of three short stories and a stop-motion video. The short clip was inspired by one of her presented short stories.
Simpson has a couple favourites in her book The Accident of Being Lost, such as “Big Water” and “Doing the Right Thing”. Both have very strong themes of nature and the state of climate on our planet, or the well being of Mother Earth.
Simpson stuck with the same theme of nature through her four stories, revolving around the setting of a sugar bush.
“There’s a lot of stories and a lot of teachings of governance and how to make decisions,” said Simpson, when asked why she followed such a common theme between all four pieces presented.
“I feel really worried about the sugar bush in context of climate change, and it was something I really want my kids to learn and remember.”
Through our culture, we practice our lessons through storytelling, and Simpson continues these practises with her written stories.
Experimenting with style and going against written tradition, while also throwing in ceremony, is a whole new level of irony that Simpson has perfected.
Slipstream, imagery, stream of consciousness, and her characterization all relate to the reader in a way that we can interpret the story in any way we wish.
Creating our own endings instead of being constricted by the typical happy ending.
Simpson played her newest stop motion film for the first time in her presentation to us, and we couldn’t be more privileged.
The connection between ceremony and urbanization is shown through her characters’ struggle of tapping maple trees in their local residential area, that has deprived the land of her forests.
An absolute roller coaster of colours and goofy references to today’s technology keeps the viewers thoughts in the present, and not restricting her stories to just the pre-colonial times.
She has the readers recognize that the conflicts addressed in Simpson’s stories are not exclusive to the past. They occur in various forms throughout our everyday lives and Simpson allows for her audience to see these struggles through her many created worlds.