The organizers of The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories welcomed over 200 people to participate in a conference dedicated to conversations about respectful ways to publish Indigenous stories. The conference took place at the University of Alberta from June 8 to 10, 2017.
Organizer Linda Cameron noted, “With cultural appropriation in the news once again, it is clear that we need to continue to talk about these difficult issues, including stereotyping, racism, and recognition. People involved in publishing are always looking to continue to improve how they work with authors and stories, and clearly this conference is filling a need.”
Program Chair Kieran Leblanc added, “After working on this project over the past two years and talking to dozens of people about the conference, I know how important it is to gather and have these conversations in a safe and respectful environment. We are bringing together a remarkable group of resources—Elders, keynote speakers and panelists—and Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have responded by registering in large numbers: writers, editors, publishers, educators, librarians, filmmakers, and artists.”
Cathie Crooks concluded, “Over and over again, we heard about the importance of developing ongoing, respectful relationships with Indigenous people and communities. Our hope of creating conversations became a reality, with people involved in powerful exchanges in every corner. As first steps toward continuing the conversations we started, we will maintain the conference website, develop greater linkages amongst conference attendees, and continue to build our relationships with one another.”
The conference was a great success, exceeding the expectation of organizers, presenters, and attendees alike. The most common question at the end of the three days? “When is the next Writing Stick?”