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The Bookshelf to celebrate indigenous writers and independent bookstores

Event is an "opportunity to connect people of all ages and backgrounds with indigenous authors and their stories"
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“We are all treaty people.”

This is the theme of a full-day event this Saturday at the Bookshelf. The event will celebrate the work of indigenous writers and the contribution that independent bookstores have made to our community and culture.

“This is the second Canadian Authors for Independent Bookstores Day,” said organizer Barb Minett. “It has happened in the United States and Europe for a few more years.”

Minett and co-organizer Carol Tyler have invited 16 First Nations, Metis and Inuit storytellers, including Guelph-based author Tom King, as well as allies of indigenous communities such as Canadian author and philosopher John Ralston Saul.

“We will be starting the day with an opening ceremony,” said Tyler.  “It is how you make sure the energy is moving in a good way and everyone is walking a good path.”

The ceremony will include a traditional smudging of the location.

“Because it is a public place, we will smudge with white sage outside,” said Tyler. “Inside, because of fire regulations, it will be smudged with cedar and water.”

Minett is proud of the cultural role the Bookshelf has played in the community and sees this event as an opportunity to connect people of all ages and backgrounds with indigenous authors and their stories.

She sought the help of Tyler, who is of M’ikmaq decent, to select a good representation of First Nations, Metis and Inuit writers.

“Since the last federal election there has been a powerful mandate to change Canada’s relationship to First Nations, Metis and Inuit and I have always been interested in that also,” said Minett. “My knowledge isn’t up to where it should be so this is a wonderful time for me when my interests and the interests of the community converge.”

The guest authors will share their stories in a number of traditional ways.

“There will be drumming and song because really drumming and song are prayer,” said Tyler. “It is a different type of story telling with the drums because the drum is telling the story and the drum is part of the person that is holding the drum so, it is another voice for the person.”  

The location of the event has both historic and symbolic significance.

“This is the Attawandaron Territory,” said Tyler. “It was a huge gathering place in this province where things were exchanged between people in a heartfelt and mindful way.”

The bookstore, the cinema and the eBar will all be used for the event.

“The whole space will be done in a medicine wheel approach,” said Tyler. “The circle has significant meaning in the teachings. The east, the south, the west and the north reflect all the phases in the circle of life. There will be a closing ceremony as we come full circle.”

Minett and Tyler see it as a day to celebrate indigenous culture and to recognize our ancestral relationship to each other and the natural world.

“The theme, ‘We are all treaty people,’ is really percolating through this community now through various churches and other community organizations,” said Tyler.  “Those treaties affect everyone. It is a full community that will be here on April 30th. They will all be sharing their unique truths and stories and this is an incredible gift.”



Troy Bridgeman

About the Author: Troy Bridgeman

Troy Bridgeman is a multi-media journalist that has lived and worked in the Guelph community his whole life. He has covered news and events in the city for more than two decades.
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