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Our Stories: Indigenous Book Club Conversation with Michelle Porter

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Apr 20, 2021

Facebook Live event

In partnership with the National Arts Centre's Indigenous Theatre, the Our Stories: Indigenous Book Club  new monthly online series runs from January to June 2021.  It highlights recently published works from Indigenous authors across Turtle Island, 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 April book is Approaching Fire by Michelle Porter

On April  28 at 7pm EST, join us for this live, online discussion with author Michelle Porter (Red River Métis) and Tai Amy Grauman (Metis, Cree and Haudenosaunee from Ardrossan, Alberta).

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)

April book - ‘Approaching Fire’ by Michelle Porter

Please note: this book is intended for adult readers.

About the book

In Approaching Fire, Michelle Porter embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler and performer Léon Robert Goulet. Through musicology, jigs and reels, poetry, photographs, and the ecology of fire, Porter invests biography with the power of reflective ingenuity, creating a portrait which expands beyond documentation into a private realm where truth meets metaphor.

Weaving through multiple genres and traditions, Approaching Fire fashions a textual documentary of rescue and insight, and a glowing contemplation of the ways in which loss can generate unbridled renewal.

About the author

Michelle Porter is a Red River Métis poet, journalist, and editor. She holds degrees in journalism, folklore, and geography (PhD). Her academic research and creative work have been focused on home, Métis mobility, and the changing nature of our relationship to land. She’s won awards for her work in poetry and journalism, and has been published in literary journals, newspapers, and magazines across the country. She lives in St. John’s.

Approaching Fire – Reflection Questions

1 . Do you have a relative you wish you could write to in order to find out more about your family history? Who would it be and why?

2. “Music can leap through generations like fire leaps a road, can’t it? Do you have any songs that connect you to past generations? How does it make you feel when you listen to them?

3. What relationship do you see between Kira Hoffman’s research about fire ecology and Michelle’s research about her great-grandfather?

4. Did you learn more about Métis culture and Métis people while reading Approaching Fire? Is there anything that stood out to you about their history in Manitoba and the rest of the country?

5. Porter talks about intergenerational trauma and describes them as “colonial-based emotional fires”. Which moments in her family’s past demonstrate this?

6. Stories can be passed down through many ways including songs, articles and art, such as beadwork as Porter describes. In what ways have stories been passed down in your family?

7. How does moving away from one’s homeland affect their understanding of their self? Have you or your family experienced this?

8. Why do you think Bob Goulet was known by so many names?

9. What is one thing you would want future generations of your family to know about you or your culture?