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Cherie Dimaline on Writing Indigenous Narrative into the Future

Literatures of Modernity Distinguished Speakers Series
By: Claire Buttery and Aesha Nananso
March 02, 2018

The Literatures of Modernity MA Program recently welcomed award-winning Canadian Métis author Cherie Dimaline as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. Dimaline is the author of the acclaimed young adult novel The Marrow Thieves, which recently competed as one of the top 5 books in Canada Reads. The Marrow Thieves also won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature and the 2017 Kirkus Prize. Dimaline’s other works include Red Rooms (2007), The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy (2013), and A Gentle Habit (2016).

Dimaline spoke to an eager group of Ryerson students who were excited to hear her presentation, entitled “Writing Indigenous Narratives Into the Future.” Caleb De Jong, a current LitMod student, says that Dimaline was a “dynamic and engaging speaker” who discussed a wealth of topics including “Indigenous land-rights, cultural appropriation, and the continuing importance of shared memories, dreams, and traditions.” Similarly, Zach McCann-Armitage, another LitMod student, comments that Dimaline “is telling really rad and important stories through her writing.”

Emily Hunsberger, who is also in the LitMod program, found Dimaline’s talk so intriguing that she took notes to reflect on later. Emily describes Dimaline as being “incredibly down-to-earth and candid, while also eloquently expressing herself.” Likewise, Caleb felt that Dimaline “broached difficult topics with an abundance of wit, humour, and passion.”

Ryerson students were left moved by Dimaline’s powerful talk. Of the variety of subjects discussed, Dimaline’s explanation of the dystopian genre as a particularly appropriate space for Indigenous narratives stood out to Emily. As Dimaline said, “who better to survive an apocalypse than people who have already done so?” Like all of the attendees who had the privilege of hearing Dimaline’s talk, Zach feels “lucky and inspired to have heard her speak.”

News report by Claire Buttery and Aesha Nananso.