CHRISTINE'S BLOG

Welcome! I love to write, and I love sharing what I write with my readers. I vary my style as much as I can-posting events, creative non-fiction, prose and poetry and the occasional video. Enjoy!

Miigwetch

Christine

Friday, June 24, 2016

The 7th Annual Indigenous Writer's Gathering; June 9 and 10, 2016 Honouring the Grandparents of Indigenous Literature: Lee Maracle and Thomas King

Photo By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)


7th Annual Indigenous Writers Gathering
By: Christine Smith McFarlane


Toronto: On June 9 & 10, 2016, the 7th Annual Indigenous Writers Gathering took place in the heart of downtown Toronto. With topics like Cultural Preservation through Story; Fiction and Non Fiction as Tools for Survival featuring Leanne Simpson, Lee Maracle and Waubgeshig Rice, Frankenstein’s Method: Building Characters that Come Alive workshop with Joseph Boyden and Waubgeshig Rice and an open mic reading night that was open to the public on the first day at Glad Day Bookshop, attendance was out of this world.

In the Building Characters Workshop, Joseph Boyden and Waubgeshig Rice told audience members  amongst other things to “allow your characters to go where they need to go and let the story shape your character. Don’t be afraid to break the clich├ęs and most of all challenge yourself, if it feels easy, do something a little different than what you would normally do.”

On June 10, 2016, the celebration of writers continued with two workshops titled Traditional Stories: What Do They Need from Us at this time in History and Articulating Memories of the Land Through Music and Multimedia workshops featuring Leanne Simpson and Susan Blight.

The 7th Annual Indigenous Writer’s Gathering ended with Honouring the Grandparents of Indigenous Literature: Lee Maracle and Thomas King. This honouring was hosted by Joseph Boyden and featured pow wow dancers, drummers, authors and some other very special guests like the Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Minister David Zimmer. When asked how it felt to be honoured Maracle said “It can’t get any better than this.”

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: UpGhost River


Review: UpGhost River
By: Christine Smith McFarlane


Separated from his family as a young child, and placed in one of Canada’s worst residential schools-St. Anne’s in northern Ontario, Edmund Metatawabin along with Alexandra Shimo tells a heart wrenching story of survival, resilience and recovery in UpGhost River.

Metatawabin details the abuses he and his friends endured at St. Anne’s, and the atrocities of some of these abuses can be triggering at times. I found it especially hard reading it when I heard about the use of electric chairs for punishment, and the physical and sexual abuse etc.

After leaving St. Anne’s residential school, Metatawabin goes on to build a life as best as he can. He gets married, has kids, goes to school and builds a career, but it all comes to be too much for him and his alcoholism and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) tries to get the best of him.

Struggling personally and professionally, Metatawabin first tries conventional healing through AA meetings and rehab, but it confuses him more. After speaking to friends, he finds healing by reconnecting with his Cree culture and connecting to the ways of the Red Road (Sobriety). He travels across Canada to Edmonton where he participates in culturally specific teachings, ceremonies and healing circles.

Metatawabin has since worked tirelessly to expose the wrongdoings of St. Anne’s Residential School, and comes full circle in his healing, by showing in his memoir, it is possible to come through anything. His narrative is haunting, but also brave and eloquent, a must read if you need inspiration yourself.

UpGhost River is 307 pages and published by Penguin Random House. ISBN: 978-0-307-39988-5