VIU Grad Turned Publisher Launches 'In Our Own Aboriginal Voice'

Rebel Mountain Press's Lori Shwydky (right) is excited to launch the first edition of 'In Our Own Aboriginal Voice' Nov. 22 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at VIU’s Shq'apthut: A Gathering Place. She will be joined by many of the contributing authors including Joe Starr (left), Michael Calvert and Spencer Sheehan-Kalina.

November 16, 2016 - 2:30pm

Collection features 18 Indigenous authors and will be officially launched on November 22 at VIU’s Nanaimo campus 

Lori Shwydky graduated Vancouver Island University (VIU) in 2016 with a BA in Creative Writing. Since then she’s wasted no time putting what she learned to use.

At VIU what excited her most was the courses that focused on publishing, so after graduation she went right to work creating Rebel Mountain Press in her home town of Nanoose Bay.

As publisher and managing editor Shwydky focused her business on putting out anthologies. Since its launch in 2015, Rebel Mountain Press has put out two teen anthologies under the series title of In Our Own Voice -- collections of Vancouver Island young writer’s work who are in grades 8-12. Recently, she added another anthology to the series: In Our Own Aboriginal Voice, a collection of stories and poems written by Aboriginal writers and artists in BC.

The first edition of In Our Own Aboriginal Voice is being officially released at VIU’s Nanaimo campus on November 22.

“For me the focus on the In Our Own Aboriginal Voice series of books came from what I learned in my First Nations Studies courses about how to look at things from an Indigenous perspective,” said Shwydky. “With Rebel Mountain Press I felt I found a niche with anthologies. I enjoyed giving voice to writers who aren’t always given a chance to be published.”

The latest anthology houses the work of 13 different Indigenous authors. Shwydky holds a contest to solicit content. Each submission is then read by three judges and herself and together they choose which pieces will make it in the book.

“What I was most impressed with is the talent that is represented in the submissions we received. In this edition, I think what our readers will find is a common thread tying everything together - hope,” said Shwydky.

Authors in the book include Jerry Smaaslet, from the Carrier Sikanni clan in Fort Ware, BC. Smaaslet had a brutal upbringing in foster homes that led to him losing not only his culture but himself. As a young man he walked a dark path that ended in incarceration for life. He tells a personal story of the journey that led to jail and how once inside he started “walking the red path”. It’s a path that led him to become a leader who now teaches and guides others who seek a similar path of healing and discovery.

Another submission comes from Joe Starr, who is a member of the Haisla Nation. The retired school teacher lives in Nanaimo and is a second year VIU student in the History program. He started writing after the loss of a loved one and hasn’t stopped since. Starr has self-published two books and his newest story Gilwa was accepted into the anthology. It is an epic telling of a story handed down to him from his ancestors.

“Soon after I lost my partner to cancer I had my own brush with death and I just started writing. It is just something I had to do. It was a healing process and during that dark time in my life everything was just lining up to come out,” said Starr. “During that period I wrote a lot and a friend of mine asked if I thought that the ancestors were speaking through me. That made me really think. I think it might just be the case.”

Contributor Michael Calvert is a Metis writer who won the 2012 Pat Bevan Award for achievement in fiction writing. The VIU alum is currently completing his master’s degree in publishing at Simon Fraser University. Calvert contributed two poems and a poignant short story to the anthology called Flood Damage. It’s a story of discovery that came when his extended family came looking for his father, who was orphaned at the age of four, and found he had passed away.

They brought with them Calvert’s lineage in a meticulously kept folder of information. Flood Damage is a deep examination of his ancestral Metis roots – roots that he himself never experienced first-hand but could finally start piecing together.

“They had my family tree documented all the way back to the 1700s. With that gift of information, I started researching what it meant to be Metis in contemporary Canadian culture and through that research, armed with my true history, the heritage that was unknown to me came alive,” said Calvert. “It was an awakening for me. I started feeling what so many generations of Metis must have gone through. Writing Flood Damage was a process that definitely affected me.”

Join Rebel Mountain Press at the launch of In Our Own Aboriginal Voice, an anthology collection of Aboriginal writers and artists in BC. The event takes place Nov. 22 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at VIU’s Shq'apthut: A Gathering Place.

A selection of authors will be reading, including: Michael Calvert, Maryann Dick, Kevin Henry, Darlene McIntosh, Natalia Auger Nybida, Ry-Lee Pearson, Spencer Sheehan-Kalina, Kirsten Sam, Kris Skinner and Joe Starr. Books will be available for purchase. Net proceeds of total book sales will be donated to the Wachiay Friendship Centre, Courtenay, BC.



Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | C: 250.618.7296 | E: |  T: @viunews

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