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.
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.