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Nos récits : Club de lecture autochtone – Discussion avec Joséphine Bacon

vagues bleu et vert

Mar 17, 2021

Facebook Live event

In partnership with the National Arts Centre's Indigenous TheatreOur Stories: Indigenous Book Club  runs from January - June 2021, with monthly books including poetry, fiction, memoirs and plays. At the end of each month, join us for an online conversation with each book’s author on Facebook live. 

Our March book is Uiesh = Quelque part by Joséphine Bacon.

On March 31 at 7pm EST, join us for this live, online discussion with author Joséphine Bacon in conversation with Natasha Kanapé Fontaine a writer, poet and interdisciplinary innu artist originally from the community of Pessamit in Nitassinan (Côte-Nord, Québec) to discuss her book. 

*Please note that this book is only available in French.

*Please note this conversation will take place in French only.

Register to receive reminders and the Facebook Live link.

Log in and comment on the reflection questions below. Feel free to engage and share your thoughts about the book throughout the month! Reflection questions will also be shared on NAC's Facebook Event Page for the book..

Borrow the book from the library. Or purchase it from these Indigenous owned and operated bookstores.

Our Stories: Indigenous Book Club series is a partnership between the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre and the Ottawa Public Library.

With thanks to sponsors:

  • Indigenous Programming (NAC): The Slaight Family Foundation, TD Ready Commitment
  • Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (OPL)


March’s book - Uiesh = Quelque part by Joséphine Bacon

About the book

In Quelque part, ou Uiesh (“somewhere, or Uiesh”), I step away from my territory; sometimes I acknowledge it, because I could never be far away. I get anxious because I am a stranger in this place (the city) that keeps reminding me that it is the one writing these words. I would like to be a simple poet and believe in that. There are departures, there are déjà vus, there are somewheres I find myself in, and there are myself and my poems with their simple words.

About the author

Joséphine Bacon is an Innu poet from Pessamit, born in 1947. A director and lyricist, she is considered one of Quebec’s leading authors. She has worked as a translator-interpreter with Elders, traditional knowledge keepers, and, wisely, she has learned to listen to their words. Joséphine Bacon often says of herself that she is not a poet, but that in her nomadic and generous heart, she speaks a language filled with poetry that resonates with the echoes of the Elders who have marked her life.

Reflecton Questions:

1.      Uiesh is made up of real and imaginary trips between Montreal and Nutshimit. The author thus goes back and forth between the place she lives (the city) and the place that has always lived in her heart (the Land of the Ancestors). How did you understand this coexistence of spaces? What does one place tell us or reveal about the other?

2.      The places that we live in - which are often those where we were born and before us, our ancestors. Like the Nutshimit for Joséphine Bacon, how do these places define us?

3.      The title of the collection, Uiesh, “Somewhere” in French, induces a certain relationship to time and space. In a way, it determines a point in time and space. What does this title mean to you? What could this point be in your existence or your intimate geography? And where do you place this point for the author? What does "somewhere in my life" (p. 5), "in this town" (p.62), "in the Nutshimit" (p. 120) tell us about her?

4.      A deep bond exists between the author and the Elders. She shares stories with them, she writes about them, she walks in their footsteps. How did this bond and their presence affect you? What happens considering our relationship to the past, to tradition, to what we do with the heritage of those before us?

5.      The author often refers to having reached a certain age in her life. How does the author see herself and her age?

6.      Uieshis also a tribute to the grandeur and vastness of the land. The author takes us through it in an extremely sensitive and concrete way. What words or images struck you?

7.      While the author praises the territory, she does not fail to observe its transformations. "The climate deceives the weather," she writes in the last pages. Earlier, she spoke of a "tortured world". Do you believe that recounting the beauty and grandeur of nature is also a way to make us sensitive and aware of the degradation it is undergoing? How can beauty help and enlighten us today?

8.      Pain and anger are not absent from this collection. The pain "spits out", it "cannot be told"; anger "becomes silent". They are there, while expressing themselves with a certain modesty. The delicacy in which she expresses these emotions does not make them less powerful or meaningful. How did you perceive and feel these feelings? How did they resonate with you?

9.      In Uiesh, the past and the present carry the same importance, even seeming linked, inseparable. The future, moreover, is almost non-existent in the conception of time. ("I need life to live / I need the present to be / I need the past to last / Tomorrow ignores me" p. 38; "I am not tomorrow / I am today ” p. 40) What can we learn from this? How can this redefine our relationship to the world and our existence?

10.  [In an interview with Radio-Canada, Joséphine Bacon says that non-Indigenous folks do not have the patience to wait for the future to become present.]

11.  The movement is important in this collection of poetry by Joséphine Bacon. Several words and images evoke this movement. What does the idea of nomadism or being in motion evoke for you? Of being at the heart of things, perhaps even of being one with them?

12.  Uiesh is a bilingual collection of poems: on one side there is innu-aimun, and on the other, French. What struck you about this layout? What thoughts or assumptions do you have about the differences of Innu-Aimun compared to French? Considering also that any language is intimately linked to a way of living and seeing the world, what would you like to know about Innu-aimun after reading Uiesh?