NORTH BAY – There is a warm, hopeful aura surrounding Lee Maracle. She hugs first, and then asks what’s up.
When she spoke as the keynote speaker at the Dream Big Conference in North Bay recently, it was my pleasure to listen. Despite cultural hardship, she has risen to be an accomplished author of 35 novels, short-stories and academic papers, an actress, a playwright, a professor, and an artist. Her positively infectious laugh shines a light on the audience.
She truly is a wise Elder who leaves you with hope for the future. The hope springs from chuckling words of the love of her family, always included in her wonderful story telling. Her grandson ran down the stairs to the stage to wave hello when he heard Maracle talking about him.
She pushes her listeners to embrace the importance of telling stories.
Lee also has a social conscience warning that artists are living below the poverty line yet a dollar invested in arts equates to $17 for the economy.
Maracle is passionate about how the art of writing to tell a story can begin the dominoes of social change. She spoke of Chekov who wrote to save the lives of children in Russia. “Artists change the ‘normal’.
She also said, “We went to residential school, we didn’t learn to read.” So to get her first novel published, Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel, she promised to teach 3500 people to read if they would buy her book. So she did.
“I wanted to write my story, so you knew life on reserve.”
And did you notice how her last name sounds like a combo of art and miracle?