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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 14:56

25th Anniversary September Retrospective

The Anishinaubemowin Series, by Basil Johnston.

            The Gift of the Stars and Living In Harmony

The Gift of the Stars
Before books there was the land. It taught our ancestors what they needed to know in order to survive, it challenged our ancestors to use what they had learned to edify their spirits, souls, hearts and mind. What they learned was revelation.               --Basil H. Johnston.

The Gift of the Stars is a remarkable and remarkably beautiful collection of children’s tales, based in the sacred stories of the Anishinaubek. But it does not stop there, with the telling of stories. This book is also an important repository for the study and preservation of the Anishinaubemowin language. The stories appear in English as well as Anishinaubemowin, and are accompanied by simple vocabulary lists to aid readers of just about any age in the learning of this extraordinary language. Recommended ages: 6–12.

Living in Harmony 
In our ancestors’ ancient society there was only one abiding principle that governed all of life, whatever species; plants, insects, birds, animals, fish and humans, and that was “live in harmony.” … Be of good kinship or respect one another as ought next of kin or be of good will. The stories [in Living in Harmony] set down and reflect our ancestors thoughts on what set off one species against another when onece the sense of kinship held them together as members of a closer knit family.                --Basil H. Johnston

Living in Harmony is the second collection of children’s stories in the Anishinaubemowin series. Like The Gift of the Stars, its stories appear in both English and Anishinaubemowin, and short vocabulary lists appear throughout. A beautiful collection of sacred stories in the style of Aesop’s Fables, Living in Harmony is an important contribution to the preservation of Anishinaube culture and language. Recommended ages: 6–12.

Basil H. Johnston (1929–2015) was an Ojibway writer, storyteller, language teacher and scholar.
For his work in preserving Ojibwa language and culture, he received the Order of Ontario and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Toronto and Laurentian University. Basil also received the Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality. With four books published by Kegedonce Press, he is one of our most beloved authors.

Friday, 31 August 2018 14:00



by Jules Arita Koostachin

To unearth our secrets means we must face our past, and in doing so,
we will find our voice.

Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths delves into the life and the healing of an lnnininew woman from the ancestral lands of the Moshkekowok, now called Northern Ontario. It is through the process of writing broken poetry; visual poetry rooted in the haunting memories of her childhood, that she provides the reader a glimpse into the mind of child survivor who was saved by her ancestors. This thought-provoking poetry sheds light on a personal account of how she comes to terms with intergenerational trauma inflicted by the residential school system. Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths explores the heartfelt and fragmented experiences through the eyes of an Indigenous woman. Through the honesty of her words, she embraces the spirit world, the resilience of her foremothers, the integral healing powers of disassociation as a survival mechanism, and the richness of her mitewin – dreams, which reconnect her to herself. Through her poetry, she has found the courage to face her difficult past, and now as a mother, she is gathering the truths of her family to help in the healing process.


JAK author photo

 Jules Koostachin, owner of VisJuelles Productions Inc., is Cree from Attawapiskat and a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. She carries extensive experience working in Indigenous community in varying capacities such as counseling, consulting, teaching and management. Jules, also known as a storyteller and digital media maker, works to honour cultural protocols and build relationships within Indigenous community through her media arts practice. Her artistic endeavours are informed by her experience living with her Cree grandparents in northern Ontario. With an energetic and fun onstage presence, Jules presents poetry readings, storytelling, and educational presentations which use her media work to educate on Indigenous realities. Jules lives in Vancouver. Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths is her debut book of poetry, and it was a twenty year journey.


Jules Koostachin's Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths is full of rich poem-stories that feel both ancient and modern at the same time. Urgent, raw and fast-paced, this is a book you'll want to drink up in one sitting.
--Alicia Elliott, 2018 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer.

I met Jules Koostachin when she was a very young mother. I suspected that she was on a journey from earth to some kind of star nation home, and that she was aware that she would have to plough through the earth stories of her life to get there. Imbued in these stories were terrible secrets, filled with awesome and monstrous stories which only the language of the stars could do justice to. This poetry is about that journey. I am inspired by the insistent and patient love that it took to craft this work. I love her love of her mother and because of the largesse of Jules's very soul I can love all her mother’s frailties, her silences and her absences. Jules's love of her mother indicates that she does not differentiate between her earth mother or her human one.  As children, we are here to love our mothers – both of them, earth and human. I love the very Moshkekowok sensibility embedded in these words: star tracks from earth to home, from secrets to  the gathering of family and the Cree Nation.
-- Lee Maracle, author of My Conversations With Canadians.

these poems take back what was stolen by the colonizer: the people’s life and voice, freedom and truth. here is the work of a shapeshifter, transforming the world word by word, teaching us the power of love. not hiding from the brutality of violence against Indigenous women and children, this poet finds strength and resilience in reclaiming language, home and roots. such courage is a gift to our spirits, our ancestors and the ones yet to come.
-- Rita Wong, author of Undercurrent.


Aaron Paquette's fabulous fantasy novel, Lightfinder, won the 2015 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature!

"Lightfinderis a brilliantly fresh, enthralling first novel, a novel that I expect will inspire a new generation of young readers both within and far beyond Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities. In fact, I’d venture to say Lightfinder will likely be not only a best seller, but a blockbuster that brings to an international generation an indigenous reality and, just maybe, a change to the world." John Richardson, Behind the Hedge. 

Lightfinder is a Young Adult fantasy novel about Aisling , a young Cree woman who sets out into the wilderness with her Kokum (grandmother), Aunty and two young men she barely knows. They have to find and rescue her runaway younger brother, Eric. Along the way she learns that the legends of her people might be real and that she has a growing power of her own. The story follows the paths of Aisling and Eric, siblings unwittingly thrust into a millennia old struggle for the future of life on earth. It deals with growing up, love and loss, and the choices life puts in our path. Love and confusion are in store, as are loss and pain. Things are not always what they seem and danger surrounds them at every turn. Will Raven's mysterious purposes prevail? With darkness closing in how will they find the light to guide them? Will Aisling find Eric in time? Set in the Alberta landscape with references to real-world challenges faced by youth today, Lightfinder has proven to be a hit with young adults and adults alike. Lightfinder spent over 60 days in Amazon's Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels in 2014, and a fourth printing was ordered within the first year of the book's release due to popular demand. Written & illustrated by Aaron Paquette.


"With an artist's eye and a storyteller's soaring imagination, Aaron Paquette has written a page-turner. I found myself rooting hard for Aisling, Eric and their beloved Kokum. This book is a hugely engaging cautionary tale: the stakes are high if we keep giving in to our appetites. But there is great light in Lightfinder. Congratulations, Aaron, on this strong debut." Shelagh Rogers, O.C., CBC Radio. 

Also available as an e-book on Kobo.



With Lesley Belleau's recent win of the League of Canadian Poets' Pat Lowther Memorial Award for her collection, Indianland, we look back at her book, The Colour of Dried Bones, published by Kegedonce in 2008.

This beautifully written book is a collection of interconnected short stories that are told primarily through the eyes of a young Aninshinaabe woman struggling with her relationships with lovers, friends, family, children, community and culture. As some relationships dissolve or are wrenched apart, others endure and gain strength. An intimate glimpse into the reality faced by many young First Nations women, The Colour of Dried Bones is by turns dark and brooding, sensual and filled with intense longing, infused with anger and brutality and, ulitmately, uplifiting in its portrayal of one woman's winding path to reclaim her culture and sense of self.

Important stories told in beautiful prose through the experiences of profoundly real characters. 

"And at midnights like these, I don't know what to do. With fathers. With long drawn-out days that fall into fogginess, leaving me emptied, sucked dry. With signing my name at the bottom of papers, forgetting to read what is on the top. With school work. With empty cupboards. Wtih mechanics who say to get rid of it, that it's not worth it to try to fix again. With hot foreheads in the middle of the night. With screaming in-laws. With mothers who think that I am the strong one. With my sister's laundry. With Sundays. And with a soft-eyed man who maybe I could love."   --Lesley Belleau, The Colour of Dried Bones

Jules Arita Koostachin is a  filmmaker, scholar, storyteller, and most recently, a poet. Her collection of poetry, Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths, will be released this summer by Kegedonce Press.

Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths delves into the life and the healing of an lnnininew woman from the ancestral lands of the Moshkekowok, now called Northern Ontario. It is through the process of writing broken poetry—visual poetry rooted in the haunting memories of her childhood—that she provides the reader a glimpse into the mind of a child survivor who was saved by her ancestors. This thought-provoking poetry sheds light on a personal account of how she comes to terms with intergenerational trauma inflicted by the residential school system.

Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths is her first book of poetry, and was a twenty year journey.

Welcome, Jules, to the Kegedonce family!

Think Indian is a collection of essays by Basil Johnston, one of Kegedonce’s most beloved and prolific writers. Originally published in 2011, Think Indian has been reprinted this year.

Johnston was an author, elder, cultural philosopher, historian, teacher, university lecturer, and linguist. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1989 for his work in preserving Ojibwe/Anishinaabe culture. He was also awarded the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal in 1992, the Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award in 2003 and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality in 2004. He passed away at age 86 in 2015.

In Think Indian, Johnston eloquently argues that understanding a people and their culture is very much dependent on understanding their language. For the Anishinaabek themselves, preserving their language and gaining fluency in it is a matter of knowing themselves.

While described as a collection of essays, the chapters of this book flow from history and reflections on language into the deeply moving legends of the Anishinaabek. They therefore preserve story and culture, as well as the insights of a remarkable elder, author, and educator. Think Indian confidently straddles the line between non-fiction and fiction, education and mythology.

Think Indian is a truly enjoyable and informative read, and a vital contribution to the preservation of Anishinaabe culture.

Read a review in Canadian Literature here

Without Reservation, published by Kegedonce in 2003, is a truly unique anthology of short fiction and poetry. It is also international, bringing together works from Indigenous poets and writers from Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.

It is also a collection of erotica.

What is Indigenous erotica? It's about the loving, sexual, 'dirty,' outrageous, ribald intimacies of humanity and sexuality that we all crave. It shows us as we are: people who love each other, who fall in love and out of love, who have lovers, who make love, have sex, break hearts, get our own hearts broken, who have beautiful bodies. It's about all of the crazy, poignant, obscene, absurd things we do just to taste, touch, enjoy, and enter another. Go ahead, sneak a peek... 

 A poem from Without Reservation, by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, to whet your appetite...

       a sweet taste of plum

                     i am
                a ripe plum
       dark flesh
               of promise
                  to run
             and sweet
                       your chin

As Kegedonce celebrates its 25th anniversary year, we look back at some of our most memorable and important publications.

April is National Poetry Month, and this month we're pleased to focus on Joanne Arnott's wonderful collection, Halfling Spring: an internet romance.

Published in 2013, Halfling Spring is poetry that tracks the transformative aspects of desire through updates or notes posted thrugh a variety of virtual and real landscapes. Vivid ink and soft charcoal sketches by award-winning artist-author Leo Yerxa interweave with Joanne Arnott's love poetry, accompanying and illuminating the work. Traditional stories, electronic metaphors, bird life and geographic observastions, literary and song references combine with dream imagery and conversational turns, tracking the early stages of a love affair. Wtih refreshing simplicity, this book presents these artists' reflections upon the complexities of the inner life, and the weathers and landscapes of love.

Joanne's first book of poetry won the Gerald Lampert award in 1992 and in 2017, Joanne was awarded the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Literary Arts. 

"Her word an intimate song, the reader is led by the heart, from the Pacific, to the Rideau, to the far northern sea. Yet her words are both delicate and compelling, and the flower is not only a fragile one; in chorus, 'a water lily is thriving,' and rooted below the reader, Arnott's words are a powerful medicine." Sharron Proulx-Turner, author of Where the Rivers Join, what the auntys say, and creole métisse of french canada, me.

From Halfling Spring:


i write his name, Alastair
then i put a comma beside his name


i see that the comma beside his name 
is like my hand on his shoulder, neck, face

i enjoy this
i write his name
i place my comma


 Find a wonderful review of Halfling Spring, by James MacKay,  here


Award-winning author David A. Groulx published the poetry collection Wabigoon River Poems with Kegedonce in 2015.

"Wabigoon River Poems is breathtakingly beautiful. The poems tackle a wide range of issues such as genocide, revolution, and survival. David Groulx does not just speak of Indigenous struggles but he also places other battles, other atrocities and other genocides committed worldwide." Christine McFarlane, Anishinaabek News. 

Sketch of a Small Town

In my small town
some young children
were playing cowboys & Indians
and hanged
a younger Native boy
playing Indian

The police cut down the body
and he kicked a bit
like a pony

David A. Groulx, Wabigoon River Poems, p. 8.

As Kegedonce celebrates its 25th anniversary year, we look back at some of our most memorable and important publications.

This month: two poetry collections by writer, multi-disciplinary artist, musician, and filmmaker Chris Bose, A Moon Made of Copper and Stone the Crow. Chris's poetry creates raw, real worlds that powerfully draw on his personal experiences of meetings and wanderings in urban settings across Canada.  

A Moon Made of Copper

A Moon Made of Copper (2014)

A Moon Made of Copper is a collection of non-fiction poems that look at the continual maturing and growth of a human being. The poems were written while touring across Canada, and they capture Bose’s experiences meeting people, wandering different cities, and getting into adventures and mis-adventures.

…sometimes living the dream gives you nightmares…

"...this collection is brutal, bloody and brilliant. Chris Bose is one of my all time inspirations. What a ferociously gorgeous roar! WOW!" Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed and Angel Wing Splash Pattern 

Stone The CrowStone the Crow (2009)

Chris Bose's first collection of contemporary urban native poetry. The author takes the reader with him as he chases after coyote down the mountains on the back of a blue horse, riding across the river and into the concrete forests of the urban reservations of Canada.

 "An important new voice on the Native literary scene, a voice much needed, a voice well expressed. A writer to watch." Tomson Highway.

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