Aaniin / Yo, first I have to acknowledge the many teachers who’ve shared stories, ceremonies, teachings, heartaches, dreams, and laughter. I’ve spent more time listening throughout my life instead of talking. This is how I learned and continue to learn. I’ve also spent lots of time reading so many good books that I keep going back to visit.
Life is good. Writing makes me happy-er. Taking photos gives me perspective. Walking brings me closer to what’s real. Talking with my kids always results in good storytelling and laughter. Cycling makes me appreciate my body even more. Reading provides me great escape. Getting up in front of people helps me exercise my voice, my stage presence, and brings me face to face with a fear that is now subsiding each time. Breathing in and exhaling out clears my mind so that I can imagine and dream a new reality.
Vera Wabegijig’s roots come from the Mississauga First Nation and Wiiwemikoong Unceded Territory – although never living in either community, she has lived in more populated areas with public transportation, a plethora of coffee shops, and among many nations of people.
Vera’s nomadic learning style has brought her across this land to foster growth as a contemporary storyteller at the En’owkin Centre, University of Victoria and Banff Centre for the Arts’ Aboriginal Emerging Writer’s Residency. Penticton, Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, and now, Nepean are her urban homes.
Her poetry has been printed in many anthologies including Yellow Medicine Review, Honouring Indigenous Women – Hearts of Nations, XXX NDN, Surviving in the Hour of Darkness, Breaking the Surface, Our Words, Our Revolutions, Reclaiming the Future, and, Sweetgrass Grows All Around Her to name a few. Vera has performed her poetry at many open mics in Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and Penticton and has been a featured poet at the Talking Stick Festival, VerseFest, Uts’am/Witness, The New Canoe, and Voices of Venus.
Besides writing, Vera is also an emerging media artist. Granny Braids, a visual love poem has been screened at ImageNations 6th Annual Film and Video Festival, ImagineNative 4th Annual Film and Video Festival, The Mole on My Ass is Named Winona, a dramatic short was screened at ImageNation 4th Annual Film and Video Festival, and Follow the Eagle, a NFB short documentary was screened at Dawson City Film Festival.
Vera has been honoured to receive the Louis Armstrong Literary Award, and many grants and scholarships from Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, BC Arts Council, First Citizen’s Fund, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, City of Ottawa, SAW Video Co-op, and First People’s Cultural Foundation.
Currently, Vera has completed a collection of poetry, Wild Rice Dreams (BookLand Press, Toronto 2013), and launched a short documentary, Dbaajaamowin/Fire, alongside with her daughters, Storm and Grace (Summer 2014).