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Vancouver Public Library names Joseph Kakwinokanasum as new Indigenous storyteller in residence

James Kakwinokanasum is the author of the acclaimed novel My Indian Summer
James Kakwinokanasum is the author of the acclaimed novel My Indian Summer. Photo by Tidewater Press.

The author of My Indian Summer will be spending a great deal of time at the Vancouver Public Library. As the newest Vancouver Public Library Indigenous storyteller in residence, Joseph Kakwinokanasum will host writing workshops and assist emerging writers and storytellers.

Kakwinokanasum is a member of the James Smith Cree Nation east of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was raised by his single mother of seven in the Peace River region of northern B.C.

“As storytellers, we honour our ancestors within the legends and tales passed down to us,” Kakwinokanasum says on the VPL website. “No matter what culture you come from, storytelling has always been a social tool that builds community and understanding.”

He adds that “strength and honour are elemental when it comes to storytelling”. He also sees it as a means of gaining personal power.

Kakwinokanasum’s debut novel was loosely based on his own childhood. Indian Summer won the 2023-24 First Nations Community READ Award and made the shortlist for the 2023 ReLit Award for fiction.

kakwinokanasum

The VPL announcement states that Kakwinokanasum will spend part of  time developing a “dark, gritty horror fantasy that builds upon some of the Indigenous ghost stories he learned as a child”.

The VPL launched its Indigenous storyteller in residence program in 2008. The full list of Indigenous storytellers in residence is available on the VPL website.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.