Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Electric Mermaid online event hosts panel of Indigenous writers

Event takes place through Char’s Landing in Port Alberni

Indigenous writers will be front and centre at the next virtual Electric Mermaid event.

Members of the public are invited to listen and connect with Indigenous writers at Electric Mermaid: Live Reads from Char’s Landing via Zoom on Friday, June 18 at 5:45 p.m.

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. Her debut book of poems On/Me (Caitlin Press) is nominated for a 2020 BC and Yukon Book Prize and a 2020 Indigenous Voices Award.

Cunningham said her writing of late has focused on introspection.

“Like many others the pandemic has given me the time to slow down and look at my life a little deeper, and it has also forced me out of groove and into new directions in my life and my writing,” she said.

She will be joined on Friday by Brendan Bomberry and Brennor Jacobs, the authors of Akhwatsirehkó:wa My Big Family. The book was named Winner of 2021 Indie International Book Award and dives into the world of lacrosse from an Indigenous perspective.

Brendan Bomberry is Mohawk Turtle clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Bomberry has been playing the game of lacrosse since he was three years old. He was drafted seventh overall in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft by the Georgia Swarm, and is now in his second year with the team. In becoming a published writer, Bomberry is able to share his knowledge and culture of the Haudenosaunee people and of the game that has helped shaped him.

Brennor Jacobs is Oneida Nation Turtle Clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Jacobs is a graduate of Brock University and he also attended the Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo language immersion school, where he was able to learn the Mohawk language, and gain a deeper understanding of his culture.

The guest host on Friday will be Francine Merasty, a third-generation residential school survivor, poet and attorney and the author of Iskotew Iskwew: Poetry of a Northern Rez Girl. She is a Nehithaw Iskwew from Pelican Narrows, a reserve in Northern Saskatchewan. She is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and a fluent Cree speaker.

Merasty said she’s pleased to host this all-Indigenous feature panel.

“We have a tradition of storytelling and sharing knowledge,” she said. “I think it’s important to share our world view with the people of Canada because we’ve been here for a long time. We have a long history of storytelling and we’re just sharing this now. People want to know more about these writers, and it’s exciting to share our knowledge and our stories.”

Electric Mermaid host Derek Hanebury said the June focus on Indigenous writers was chosen months ago, long before the wake of recent horrifying revelations of a burial site on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc land, where 215 Indigenous children were taken away from their families.

“We acknowledge the tragic losses to so many families caused by the residential school system,” Hanebury said. “The news has tuned the hearts of many people to hear, to pay attention—and to connect in places there were barriers before. We hope people will tune in to hear these talented young Indigenous writers and meet them online.”

Writers who would like to read their own work in the curated open mic can sign up by sending Karl Korven a note at ElectricMermaidReads@gmail.com for a spot of up to five minutes.

Attendees can go to charslanding.com and click on the link to the Electric Mermaid to get the Zoom link for the event.

authorPort Alberni