Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sleeping Giant Awakens - Part 2

The Aboriginal writing community has, in the past, been a relatively small and unknown element in the Canadian publishing industry. Now this awakening giant is becoming a major player in the field.

Still many challenges remain. I recently had a publisher turn down an excellent manuscript (he agreed it was excellent) because it was written in the Cree language. Another manuscript was turned down because the story premise wouldn't be acceptable in the mainstream market. When I talked to the author, she said it was Native humour. I agreed with her. It was something that a lot of people in the Aboriginal community would think funny but perhaps most other Canadians would not understand.
And joining the growing number of Canadian Aboriginal writers is a much smaller group of Christian Canadian Aboriginal authors. And yes, there is an added challenge for these writers. Their writing is typically not “mainstream.” Often the books are set in the far north (Churchill north; not Sault Ste Marie north!) where many Canadians have never traveled. Their plots, characters and dialogue may be more reflective of Aboriginal, rather than the mainstream, culture. But the Lord we serve is the same. Jesus’ love crosses time zones and transcends cultures.

A pioneer in Native Christian writing was a woman from the USA named Crying Wind. Her self-titled book, Crying Wind, crossed the cultural barriers into the Christian mainstream in 1977. Her publisher, Harvest House released her second book, My Searching Heart in 1979. More recently, Crying Wind has authored: When the Stars Danced and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins – both excellent titles available from http://www.indianlife.org/.

Today, many more fine Christian Aboriginal authors are joining her ranks and some of these are Canadian. Howard Jolly’s book, Hope for the Hurting, has become an important resource for parents, teachers and pastors who are counseling teens who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. Free-lance journalists, Brenda Fontaine and Brenlee Longclaws, bring a Christian, Canadian, Aboriginal perspective to the articles they write. Children’s book authors Flora Rideout and Brenda Fontaine are paving the way for a new generation as budding authors such as Corrine Clyne begin their writing journey.
It is an exciting time we live in – a time when many new voices are blending with ours. And today, we have all have the joyous opportunity to step out of our comfort zones, open wide our hearts and minds, and read some books by people who are perhaps not so very different from us after all.

M. D. Meyer

Author of The Little Ones, available from http://www.wordalivepress.ca/, author's website and bookstores across Canada.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you for this terrific piece, providing a helpful, informed, and encouraging perspective on Canadian Christian Aboriginal writers.

Popular Posts