Pre-Launch Reading to RMC Cadets
It is fitting that my first public reading of Yasmeen Haddad Loves Joanasi Maqaittik took place at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean. Two years ago, Dr. Nanette Norris of the English Department invited me to read from my work and I included an except from my then-unpublished manuscript. Since that time, the manuscript underwent many edits and rewrites, and the title changed.
When Dr. Norris invited me to lecture her students last week about my relationship with Nunavik over the past three decades, she specifically wanted me to read from the newly published novel. Approximately 50 uniformed cadets were in attendance, and asked some very pertinent questions about my experiences teaching in the North and how it felt to go from writing poetry to writing a novel.
Co-presenting with me that night was Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, who currently sits on the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke. Speaking in English and Mohawk, the vibrant speaker explained some of the traditions and values of her people, shared her thoughts on the Indian Act and the Oka Crisis, and presented a short video showcasing her community today.
The biggest surprise for me was her answer to a question on how she felt about the Trudeau government's efforts to right the wrongs of the past. I half expected her to say that he was no better than Harper, but she surprised me. Although there is still much work to do, she said, she is hopeful going forward. It was an enlightening evening.