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Gathering features 'all-star' lineup of authors in Rama

'It's important for us, as a people, to record our history and … to share it with our youth,' says Rama First Nation chief of weekend events

The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture is hosting an Indigenous stories event, Gathering: Festival of First Nations Stories, this weekend.

With renowned Indigenous authors from across Ontario and Canada, the event began Thursday night and will have a full slate of activities Saturday at the Rama Community Hall.

“I would highly recommend that individuals who are interested in literary works, especially Indigenous literary works, whether you’re Indigenous or not … to take it all in. You’ll be better off for it,” said Rama First Nation Chief Ted Williams.

The event kicked off Thursday evening with a welcome circle, featuring stories from Williams, drumming, songs, and an opportunity to meet the authors. The event continues tonight, from 7 to 9 p.m., with live music and a tribute to author Lee Maracle.

On Saturday, the event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and feature readings from eight Indigenous authors. Some of the authors being featured are Sherry Lawson, Norma Dunning, Drew Hayden Taylor and Waubgeshig Rice.

Williams said this year’s event showcases an “all star” line-up of Indigenous authors.

“If you’re interested in the written word, you’re going to have eight of the finest Indigenous writers, in Rama, tomorrow at the community hall,” he said. “We are an oral-history people, as has been recorded over the years, and we pass on stories, oral stories, and this is basically the same, but authors have taken to the written word. It’s important for us, as a people, to record our history and … to share it with our youth.”

This weekend’s event also marks the launch of the Tomson Highway Residency for Emerging Authors.

Event curator Sherry Lawson said the details of the residency will be announced in the coming weeks. It will be open to artists in a number of mediums.

“Tomson has been involved with writing and play writing and acting for many, many decades. He’s known as a leader in the field, especially to First Nations people … and he just wanted to put some money forward to help our young people give thought to doing those types of things, whether it’s theatre, whether it’s dance, whether it’s storytelling, whether it’s any of those things that tell our story,” Lawson said.

She said the residency will also be available for a variety of purposes.

“There will be an application to tell us why you, as a young person, want to go off to school and study this type of thing, or (want to) to spend time with someone, a Native person who’s already in the business and learn the business that way. (Highway) just wants to light a spark under our young people to consider those types of careers,” she said.

“We hope, as well, that we’ll be able to grow it into a larger program, that perhaps multiple people might be able to be sponsored for a longer period of time.”

All events are free. However, those planning to attend are asked to register here.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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