Thanks to Ojibwire Blog I learned about a news article written by Stephanie Wesley for Wawatay News Online entitled: Waiting for a Story. This led me on an unexpected and delightful journey of discovery!
Stephanie explains how she first heard about the Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge back in 2008 but she decided to wait for the right story and it did not appear in her life until this year, 2012. Waiting was the right thing to do: ”Out of roughly 300 entries, the fictional short story I wrote entitled “Jonas” was picked as the winner….The story itself means so much to me. “Jonas” was inspired by real-life events involving students who have passed away while attending high school in Thunder Bay.”
Her comments about why it is important for writers, especially aboriginal writers, to continue to write no matter what, resonated loud and clear with me, “I feel it is important to share your story because nobody else will ever wear the kind of shoes that you do, therefore nobody else can tell your story.” She encouraged Anishinaabe youth, ages 14-29 (eligibility ages for the contest) to enter, “Know that as an Anishinaabe person, you have an innate ability for storytelling through words and depicting tales and legends through art.”
The Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge was started in 2005 and “has since become the largest and most recognizable essay writing competition in Canada for aboriginal youth.” The Challenge expanded in 2010 to include art and is now called The Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge. This expansion has become open to “a new audience of Aboriginal youth – those who are not writers, but instead express themselves through painting, drawing and photography.”
On the website you can read all of the winning story entries, including “Jonas”, Stephanie Wesley’s piece. If you enter the word métis in the search box it will pull up all of the stories written by Métis youth or related to Métis heritage. I’m looking forward to reading the stories and will make sure to blog/post about those I enjoy. I am also very excited about sharing some of the beautiful Métis art work that is showcased in the gallery.
For today, here is a beautiful painting which was a winning entry from 2011 by Hannah St. Denis-Katz. This is a painting of her “uncle’s great-great grandfather, Raphael Morin Senior’s, second house. This house is still standing on its original location at Morin Lake, Victoire, Saskatchewan. The house was on the Carlton/Green Lake trail [Métis historical trail], three miles away from the Hudson Bay Company’s Shell River/English River trading post. Raphael first settled on this land in 1880 and according to Raphael’s last will and testament, this house was built in 1903.”
Hannah says: ”The history behind the house is what truly brought the painting to life. As I painted this old house I was taken aback by how beautiful it was; it had character and uniqueness even though it was old, run-down, and partly burned. The house is a reminder of the importance of family, home and our Métis history.”