Audible, an online audio book and podcast service, has kicked off a new mentorship program for emerging First Nations, Inuit and Métis writers.
Métis educator Chelsea Vowel is one of the mentors in the Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle program, alongside other notable Indigenous writers like Norma Dunning, Tanya Talaga, Richard Van Camp, and Kim Wheeler.
“I joined as a mentor because I want to share the experience that I have gained through trial and error,” says Vowel, who’s from manitow-sâkahikan (Lac Ste. Anne) Alberta, and currently living in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton).
She says the idea behind this six-month mentorship is “to get more Indigenous authors from diverse backgrounds to start publishing and to get into the industry because every Indigneous person comes from a different community and those stories are important.”
“We need more representation,” says Vowel, who’s the mother of six girls. “We need more people writing and sharing their stories from their own particular nation, but also we need our communities to see ourselves represented accurately.”
Vowel is the author of Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada and she and her co-host Molly Swain produce the Indigenous feminist sci-fi podcast Métis in Space, and co-founded the Métis in Space Land Trust. Vowel has a BEd, LLB, and MA and is a Cree language instructor at the Faculty of Native studies at the University of Alberta.
“I thought it would be really cool to have an opportunity to work with people over a longer period of time and see the progression of their work as they go,” she tells IndigiNews.
The 15 emerging writers were selected in May 2021. The participants are in the midst of training — submitting writing to the mentors who then provide feedback and set a deadline for the next submission.
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Over the next six months, Vowel and the other mentors will draw on their expertise to support 15 emerging writers and entrepreneurs through a series of virtual workshops.
They’ll be exploring themes such as Indigenous identity, mental health, Cree stories, healing and the Sixties Scoop experience, says Vowel.
Vowel, who has been passionate about writing from an early age, says it’s important for Indigenous people to have space where they can enhance their writing abilities while having someone there to support them.
As a mentor, Vowel focused on creating lasting change across the publishing industry that will serve current and future Indigenous writers.
“I want to see Native people writing in every conceivable genre. I want to see Native horror. I want to see Native young adult fiction, mystery — and to have so much that we can never possibly read it.”