Gathering: Festival of First Nations Stories returns! This three-day event at Rama features internationally celebrated First Nations authors, storytellers and presenters.
Schedule of Events
June 9th-11th at Rama Community Hall
* All events are free of charge, but please RSVP below
Thursday, June 9th
Welcome Circle : 7pm-9pm
Story circle with Chief Williams | drumming | songs | meet the authors
Friday, June 10th
Lee Maracle Tribute : 7pm-7:45pm
Sid Bobb | Drew Hayden Taylor | Brenda Wastasecoot
Songs & Stories : 8pm-9:30pm
Live Music - Ronnie Douglas | Ritchie Benson
Saturday Morning, June 11th
Sunrise Ceremony : 5:26am
Reading 1 : 9:30am - 10:45am
Brenda Wastasecoot | Shanika MacEachern & her daughter Breighlynn
Welcome and Remarks : 11am
At the Rama Community Hall
Reading 2 : 11:15am - 12:45pm
Sherry Lawson | Waubgeshig Rice
Saturday Afternoon, June 11th
Truth and Reconciliation : 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Cynthia Wesley Esquimaux | Brenda Wastasecoot
Reading 3 : 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Lisa Bird-Wilson | Armand Garnet Ruffo
Reading 4 : 4pm - 5pm
Norma Dunning | Drew Hayden Taylor
Closing Remarks : 5pm - 5:30pm
Armand Garnet Ruffo
Armand Garnet Ruffo’s research and writing intersect creatively with his Ojibwe culture. He recently co-edited a new edition of The Oxford Anthology of Indigenous Literature. He also published a wide-ranging book of observations called Treaty # which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award in 2019. He wrote a libretto for a musical called Sounding Thunder: the Song of Francis Pegahmagabow, which is based on the real life experiences of an acclaimed Ojibwe WW I sniper. He is also the author non-fiction biographies of Grey Owl: the Mystery of Archie Belaney and Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird which was also shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. He is also an accomplished filmmaker. He is the National Scholar in Indigenous Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where he teaches Creative Writing.
Brenda Wastasecoot is from the York Factory Cree Nation in Manitoba. She is a mother, grandmother, and great-great Aunt of the Wastasecoot and Brightnose family. Their roots begin from the York Factory fur trading post, flowing south along the Hudson Bay railway to Winnipeg. Currently, Dr. Wastasecoot teaches at the University of Toronto, where she resides in Toronto. She consults with the Arts & Science Faculty members to better reflect the historic truth and to open doors to reconciliation. Dr. Wastasecoot’s doctoral dissertation is titled: Showing and Telling the Story of Nikis: Arts Based Auto-ethnographic Journeying of a Cree Adult Educator. In telling the stories from a memory map of her childhood home in the 1960’s she exposes the impacts of the Residential School policy. Brenda is also the author of the children’s book Granny’s Giant Bannock. She is Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Studies.
Cynthia Wesley Esquimaux
In September 2016 Dr. Cynthia Wesley Esquimaux was appointed as the 1st Indigenous Chair for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada for Lakehead University and she continues to develop pathways forward to reconciliation across Canada. Cynthia is responsible for the development and implementation of the President’s Council for Truth and Reconciliation. She was the inaugural Nexen Chair for Indigenous Leadership at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and remains a faculty member in the Indigenous Learning program. Cynthia was inducted as a “Honourary Witness” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2014, and is the Chair of the Governing Circle for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. She is a member and resident of the Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation in Ontario. She is deeply committed to public education and active youth engagement from all cultures and backgrounds.
Drew Hayden Taylor
Drew Hayden Taylor is Anishnawbe/Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario and an award-winning playwright, journalist, short-story writer, novelist, commentator, scriptwriter and documentarian. As a writer/creator, he strives to educate and inform about issues that interfere with, reflect on and celebrate the lives of Canada’s First Nations.
Taylor has authored over 30 books, including Chasing Painted Horses, which won the 2020 PMC Indigenous Literature Award. He edits the series that considers First Nations’ lives through the themes of Me Funny, Me Sexy and Me Artsy, with the latest instalment Me Tomorrow: Indigenous Views on the Future in 2021 (Douglas & McIntyre) and has been nominated for two Governor General’s Awards. Taylor lives on the Curve Lake First Nation and in Toronto, ON.
Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw writer whose work appears in literary magazines and anthologies across Canada. Her fiction book, Just Pretending (Coteau Books 2013), won four Saskatchewan Book Awards, including 2014 Book of the Year, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award, and was the 2019 One Book, One Province selection. Bird-Wilson’s debut poetry collection, The Red Files (Nightwood Editions 2016), is inspired by family and archival sources and reflects on the legacy of the residential school system and the fragmentation of families and histories. She is the current prose editor for Grain magazine as well as a founding member and chair of the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers Circle Inc (SAWCI). Her new novel, Probably Ruby, was published in Canada by Doubleday in 2021.
Dr. Norma Dunning is an Inuk writer as well as a scholar, researcher, professor and grandmother. Her short story collection Tainna: The Unseen Ones won the 2021 Governor General’s Award for literature, and her previous short story collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories (University of Alberta Press, 2017), received the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the Howard O’Hagan Award for short stories and the Bronze Foreword INDIES Award for short stories. She lives in Edmonton, AB.
Musician Ronnie Douglas is an Ojibway from the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, and has been performing in clubs and on festival stages throughout Southern Ontario since the early 1990’s. A roots vocalist/guitarist in the blues tradition, he cites Howlin’ Wolf as a primary influence. Ronnie has appeared at numerous festivals and concert venues including the Great Canadian Blues Festival and the Mariposa Folk Festival. He has also appeared on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
Shanika MacEachern, a Native Student Advisor with the Annapolis Valley Centre for Education in Nova Scotia, is a Mi’kmaw woman devoted to learning traditional knowledge and teaching it to youth to empower the voices of our future. Her studies in addictions and prevention counselling, led to her interest with intergenerational trauma within First nations communities across Canada. Shanika hopes her story Muinji’j Asks Why: The Story of the Mi’kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School touches the hearts of many and captures the severity of the trauma her people have faced, and which continues to ripple throughout First Nations communities. She is joined by her 8 year old daughter Breighlynn (Muinji’j) who inspired her book.
Sherry Lawson grew up on Rama Reserve near Orillia, Ontario in the lean 50’s and 60’s. Her father and his mother were a wealth of knowledge on topics of Native People, history, language and culture, and she thrived under their tutelage. Sherry never meant to be an author but turning fifty convinced her to leave a record for her children and grand-children. Sherry’s stories take us through a chaotic childhood and instances as a young adult of outright racism. There are tears and laughter, just like in real life. Sherry’s professional life took her from the halls of justice to helping deliver a breakfast program in area schools, from improving library and literacy services to First Nations communities, to speaking to audiences large and small, about how things used to be B.C. (Before casino). She was fortunate to travel the world with her late husband Rob and has two accomplished, grown children. Sherry likes to describe herself this way: wife, mother, community member and Nookomis (Grandmother). She is at work on the fourth collection of her Stories From My Life series.
Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community, and won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014. His latest novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was released in October 2018 and became a national bestseller. Waub graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002. He’s worked in a variety of news media since, reporting for CBC News for the bulk of his career. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling. His most recent role was host of Up North, CBC Radio’s afternoon show for northern Ontario. He left CBC in May 2020 to focus on his literary career. His proudest roles are as dad to Jiikwis and Ayaabehns and husband to Sarah. The family splits its time between Sudbury and Wasauksing.