Emerging Indigenous writers have a new opportunity to seek mentorship through the Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle launching this summer.
Later this month fifteen writers will be selected to be paired with journalist and author Tanya Talaga, 26 time published novelist Richard Van Camp, writer, publicist and audio producer Kim Wheeler, or two other yet-to-be announced Indigenous mentors.
Wheeler, an award-winning writer and producer formerly with the CBC Aboriginal Digital Unit, said that programs like these show young Indigenous people that “there is a place for them” and that “if they do want to become a writer, they can and they can make a living at it.”
“When I was a young journalist and a young writer, we didn’t really have people that we could turn to,” she said. Now that she and her cohort have “made space for Indigenous people in this industry,” “it’s important to be able to hold that space and help them walk through that door and have their voices heard.”
The Writers’ Circle, who’s stated goal is to “elevate the voices of Indigenous peoples in Canada, in an effort to enhance equity and support reconciliation,” is a six-month virtual program with three full-day immersive workshops with some of the industry’s leaders in publishing, writing, marketing and content management.
Writers will work with their mentors to hone their creative voices and advance their work. At the end of the program, depending on how each writer has progressed, Audible has stated that participants may have the opportunity to explore recording with Audible. Participants will also be awarded a bursary of $1,000 to support their participation in the program.
Beyond the selection criteria of being over 18, self-identifying as First Nations, Inuit and/or Metis, Wheeler said anyone with a love of writing and storytelling who is curious and open to constructive input would be a good fit for the program.
Van Camp, one of the founding members of the North Words NWT writer’s festival, said he hopes to see more representation of Northern writers come out of the program.
“I know there is talent in the Northwest Territories,” he said. “We need more book deals. We need more author representation with major agency houses.”
As a prolific author Van Camp said he has strong ties to a number of publishing houses and agencies. If the manuscripts are at a place where they can be published, he said he would be recommending the writers to his publishers or agents, if not both.
“This is just another arrow in your quiver as a writer in terms of taking your craft to the next level and having people who only want the best for you to be there for you for the next six months,” he said.
“If this is really speaking to you, why not use the next six months to give yourself the time and space, and attention that you deserve.”