Gateway Gazette

Wordfest Announces Indigenous Voices Series at 20th Festival

Drew Hayden Taylor, Richard Van Camp and Aaron Paquette Among Artists to Appear in Expanded Indigenous Voices Series at 20th Wordfest

Calgary, AB – In celebration of its anniversary year, Wordfest is presenting a dedicated Indigenous Voices Series featuring renowned artists from First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities at the 20th Festival, October 13-18, 2015.

Drew Hayden Taylor, Richard Van Camp and Aaron Paquette are among the artists confirmed to appear in the new series. More artists in the lineup will be announced over the spring and summer.

Taylor and Van Camp both appear in Me Artsy, a new anthology of essays from more than a dozen contributors writing about how to live a creative life from a First Nations perspective, asking questions such as what inspires the artistic spirit? How does one get started? Where do you find inspiration?

Aaron Paquette is also confirmed to appear in the new series, which will include events geared toward younger readers under the Wordfest Youth Program. Paquette is one of Canadaʼs premiere First Nations artists. He is a painter, writer, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. At Wordfest, Paquette presents his YA fantasy novel Lightfinder, about a young Cree woman and her siblings who are unwittingly thrust into a millennia-old struggle for the future of life on earth.

Described as “a festival within a festival,” the series will include a number of Wordfest’s hallmark event formats, such as workshops, storytelling events, poetry readings, spoken word performances, marquee showcases, on-stage interviews and intimate gatherings that explore Canada’s shared history and vision for the future.

The series builds on Wordfest’s long legacy of highlighting the achievements of Indigenous writers. Over many years, the Festival has featured a number of Indigenous writers and nurtured their artistic development. Wordfest has had the honour of hosting writers such Joseph Boyden, Tomson Highway, Edmund Metatawabin, Eden Robinson, Thomas King, Waubgeshig Rice and Richard Wagamese. And the Festival has helped introduce Calgarians to ground-breaking artists such as Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq.

“Tagaq first appeared at Wordfest 2011, my first year programming the Festival, and has since won a Polaris Music Prize,” says Jo Steffens, Executive Director of Wordfest. “I am delighted for her. Her participation at Wordfest was so incredible; Calgarians were blown away by her performance.”

“Joseph Boyden first appeared at the Festival in 2005 and Wordfest was thrilled to welcome him back in 2008 and again to celebrate his Scotiabank Giller Award win in 2013 as the Banff Distinguished Author,” says Jo Steffens.

The Indigenous Voices Series will be held in schools and public venues, and is designed to introduce more readers of all ages to Canada’s rich landscape of contemporary literature by Indigenous artists.

WORDFEST is a not-for-profit arts organization that brings readers and writers together to experience the power of story through a premier international writers festival and year-round events in Calgary and the Bow Valley. The 20th annual Wordfest runs from October 13 to 18, 2015.

The expanded program is possible thanks to generous support from the Calgary Foundation.

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