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An acclaimed poet and associate professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Rita Wong investigates the relationships between contemporary poetics, social justice, ecology, and decolonization. For some time now, she has been researching the poetics of water. A recipient of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Emerging Writer Award, Wong is the author of monkeypuzzle (Press Gang, 1998), forage (Nightwood, 2007, short-listed for the 2008 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, winner of Canada Reads Poetry 2011), sybil unrest (Line Books, 2008, with Larissa Lai), and undercurrent (Nightwood 2015). Wong co-authored the map-length poem beholden: a poem as long as the river, with Fred Wah for Talonbooks in 2018. In 2016 she co-edited Downstream: Reimagining Water, a collection of work on the theme of water, with Dorothy Christian for the Environmental Humanities series with WLU Press.
Louise Bernice Halfe was born in Two Hills, Alberta, and was raised on the Saddle Lake Reserve. Her Cree name is Sky Dancer. Her most recent work, Burning in this Midnight Dream (2016), won three Saskatchewan Book Awards, as well as the Raymond Souster Award for Poetry. Her three previous collections of poetry include Bear Bones & Feathers, Blue Marrow and The Crooked Good. Halfe served as Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate from 2005 to 2006. Her poems have won National Magazine Awards and her work on the article and visual essay “In Attawapiskat: Real life on the Rez” received an honorary mention for The Walrus Magazine. Louise has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Regina and received an Honorary Degree of Letters (Ph. D) from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2012. She currently works with Elders in an organization called Opikinawasowin (“raising our children”). She lives outside of Saskatoon with her husband.
Joseph Naytowhow is a gifted Plains/Woodland Cree (nehiyaw) singer/songwriter, storyteller, and voice, stage and film actor from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Band in Saskatchewan. As a child, Joseph was influenced by his grandfather’s traditional and ceremonial chants as well as the sounds of the fiddle and guitar. Today he is renowned for his unique style of Cree/English storytelling, combined with original contemporary music and traditional First Nations drum and rattle songs.
An accomplished performer, Joseph is the recipient of the 2006 Canadian Aboriginal Music Award’s Keeper of the Tradition Award and the 2005 Commemorative Medal for the Saskatchewan Centennial. In 2009 Joseph also received a Gemini Award for Best Individual or Ensemble Performance in an Animated Program or Series for his role in Wapos Bay series. That same year he was also awarded Best Emerging Male Actor at the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival for his role in Run: Broken Yet Brave and won Best Traditional Male Dancer at John Arcand’s Fiddlefest in Saskatchewan.
Joseph holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan. As an innovative artist, mentor, and a committed arts educator he fully embraces his own lifelong learning curve.