Up and Coming: Canadian Indigenous Authors

There is so much great Indigenous talent in the literary world and some of the most exciting pieces to come out in the past two years are from up-and-coming new Indigenous authors. Today we are profiling six of them.

Francine Cunningham

The Vancouver-based award-winning author of On/Me, a poetry collection published by Caitlin Press, Francine Cunninghamis also an artist and educator. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and BA in theatre from UBC.

Published widely online and in anthology form for creative nonfiction, Francine has also written for film, television and an ebook from the Vancouver Public Library that was a choose-your-own-adventure. Before the publication of her collection, Francine's poetry was published in countless magazines, while her short fiction and essays won many awards.

Helen Knott

Great-great granddaughter to an original Treaty 8 chief, a Dane Zaa and Nehiyaw social worker, activist, poet and writer, Helen Knott, recently released her debut memoir, In My Own Moccasinsthrough University of Regina Press.

This memoir Compares violence against women to violence against the land and dives deep into the impacts of colonization. Addiction, sexual violence and trauma are laid bare labour while highlighting the resilience of her family and the power of redemption. This work was longlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor prize.

Karen McBride

Crow Winter is the debut novel of Algonquin Anishinaabe writer Karen McBride. She comes from the Timiskaming First Nation and is an elementary school teacher. She is an academic who holds many degrees including a bachelor of arts in music and English, a bachelor of education and a master of arts in creative writing. Her novel approaches grief and traumawith levity and magic.

Tyler Pennock

Toronto-based Cree and Metis poet Tyler Pennockrecently released their debut poetry collection, Bones, which delves into past traumas and their reverberations in the life of a two-spirited Indigenous person. This adoptee, a Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation member, community worker and educator has an MFA in Creative writing and a bright literary future.

Arielle Twist

Arielle Twist is a Halifax-based Cree poet and educator who originally came from George Gordon First Nation. Named by CBC Books as a writer to watch in 2019, this Two-Spirit Trans woman explores themes of trauma, death, grief, and anger in Disintegrate/Dissociate, her debut poetry collection. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Shortlisted in The National Magazine Award, Arielle’s work has been significantly noticed.

Douglas Walbourne-Gough

Douglas Walbourne-Gough is a poet and member of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation who hails from Cornerbrook, Newfoundland. Shortlisted for the 2020 Raymond Souster Award and the 2020 Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, Crow Gulchis his debut poetry collection, a history of a “forgotten people.” A graduate of UBC Okanagan master of Fine Arts and creative writing, Walbourne-Gough  is now working towards his PhD.

With all of these amazingly talented writers putting work into the world, you should have no shortage of opportunities to lose yourself in the written words of Indigenous talent. Which book will you read next?