Three indigenous women weigh in on Edmonton cancelling Joseph Boyden appearance
The city made the decision after hearing from local indigenous elders
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The city’s decision to cancel Joseph Boyden’s appearance at the Winter Cities Shake-Up in February has many in Edmonton talking about reconciliation.
City officials told Metro that after hearing from local indigenous elders, they decided it wasn’t worth upsetting relationships in order to host the author, who has come under fire for his claims to indigenous roots — which some say are unsubstantiated.
Metro asked three indigenous women for their thoughts on the decision.
Dawn Marie Marchand - Edmonton’s indigenous artist in residence
I agree with the city on this one, but I think we as a city need to start showcasing more of our local voices at events like these. By going outside our local indigenous population for guidance and entertainment, I think we are doing it wrong. Reconciliation in local cities requires different, local groups of people to get together and create relationships here. Edmonton has incredible indigenous talent and I hope they look to replace him with someone local who tells local stories.
Tiffany Shaw-Collinge - local Métis woman
I don’t know if it was the right decision. I feel conflicted because the answer isn’t giving me enough of a reason for the cancellation. I think it’s really important to be really careful for who speaks for whom. I would never say an elder’s word is not important but I also wouldn’t say it’s the Bible. Even though I’m saying this, the person next to me who is indigenous would say something different. Finding one way to be about these things is not going to happen.
Christine Sokaymoh Frederick – Métis art director
I think one good thing that’s come from this is people are now talking about identity and reconciliation. It’s important — we all need to come together and create relationships. I do think having more local voices at festivals or events is one of the better ways for people to connect and make that relationship. That’s why one of our biggest pushes is highlight local artists and writers because there are so many of them and they have so much to offer to our city.