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Spring Literary fest keeps the written word rolling

The Indigenous Writers Collective hosted a small but intimate series of readings, workshops and meetings over the Easter long weekend proving the written word is not dead.

Friday night's event was held at Neechi Commons and featured Tasha Spillet and Len Flett with special readings by members of the Indigenous Writers Collective.

Flett recently released the book "From the Barren Lands" that I learned he originally wrote as a sort of legacy to his family.

It was just by chance that it was picked up by a publisher to become a book.

Flett's book not only follows the his story but his ancestors' journey through the history of this province as well.

For the former Northwest Co. vice president, retirement has turned out to be a busy time for reflection and giving back to the community. For his next book, Flett said he will try and come up with ideas for community economic development.

Saturday's event included workshops with Ian Ross and Jordan Wheeler.

It was fascinating as the two worked side-by-side complimenting and challenging each other along with the audience as the listener delved deeper into their respective crafts - playwriting and screenwriting.

Everyone just dived right in as the two shared experiences and dropped quite a few names into the mix of Indigenous writing, politics and arts.

Ross won a Governor Generals Award for his play FareWel in 1997. That was his first foray into professional theatre and he hasn't looked back since.

Ross credited Tomson Highway's play "Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing" with helping to get his first play produced.

It seems that a certain creative director from Winnipeg had commissioned Highway to write a play but after getting a handful of papers that included bits of paper written on napkins. The creative director passed on it only for it to become a "hit" play produced by another theatre company.

Jordan Wheeler started off quite young finding himself in some demand after his first published work Brothers In Arms first hit the scene.

Although he had worked on other productions, it was working on North of 60 where he developed the skill for script editing as well.

Of course, he pointed out that there are ups and downs in the industry especially when a series you've been working on, like Arctic Air, is cancelled.

Rounding out the day was CBC broadcast personality Rosanna Deerchild talking about her recently released book of poetry "Calling Down the Sky."

The book is her efforts to put in words her mother's residential school experiences that turned into a journey of reconciliation between the two.

That journey started with the first Truth and Reconciliation event held in Winnipeg when her mother wanted to share her residential school story at the public event but was denied due to time constraints.

Later that day, over a serving of tea Deerchild's mother opened up and shared some of her stories with her daughter.

It took five years but the wait was well worth it.

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