Indigenous creative nonfiction writers met the Malahat’s open call for submissions with excellence, from a place of uncompromising strength, and with a commitment to Indigenous practices of storytelling so often marginalized within the canon of Canadian literature. I was flooded with submissions that were more than worthy of publication, and this wonderful reality made my responsibilities as editor both easy and excruciating. There are so, so few places for Indigenous writing to be published on our terms with Indigenous editorial support, particularly for Two-Spirit and Queer writers, particularly for women writers, and particularly for creative nonfiction. The calibre and number of submissions for this project is reflective of this reality.
Lindsay Nixon is a nehiyaw-saulteaux-Métis writer living in Montreal. Her piece “Windigo”speaks back to the violence that tries to smother Indigenous life in its beautiful refusal of colonial power. Alicia Elliot is a Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations of the Grand River territory. Her essay “A Mind Spread out on the Ground” considers the impact of dispossession on our bodies and minds, eloquently reframing depression inside of Mohawk thought. Siku Allooloo’s “Caribou People” immerses us in the world of family and caribou. The fire of this essay lies in her caribou love as she fights to protect the caribou nation from elimination. Siku is an Inuit/Haitian Taino writer and Dene family member from Denendeh and living in the north. Helen Knott is a Dane Zaa/Cree writer from Prophet River First Nation in British Columbia whose love of her homeland dances off the page as she brings voice to the parts of her threatened by the construction of the Site C Dam in her piece “The Land As They Knew It.”
It was a privilege and honour to read all of the works submitted overwhelmingly by emerging writers. This makes me feel proud. I chose the four pieces in this issue because they spoke to both my heart and my head, because they affirmed struggle and my experience as an Indigenous person, because they provided a flight path out of the violence of colonialism, and because they all come at the world from a place of grounded Indigenous strength. These writers refuse to be victims. They refuse to parade our pain out for the consumption of our audiences. They represent a new generation of Indigenous writers.
As it appears in The Malahat Review's Indigenous Perspectives Issue (#197)