By Lee Weimer
TORONTO – The International Festival of Authors (IFOA) held at the Toronto Harbourfront, invites authors to share their knowledge.
A conversation with Drew Hayden Taylor is an almost overwhelming experience. He has been successful for over 25 years as author, playwright, journalist, broadcaster, televisions script writer, film maker, travelling to 17 countries, lecturing and basically having fun every chance he gets.
I met Drew Hayden Taylor at the Lakeside Terrace just before he presented his newest collection of short stories, ‘Take us to your Chief”. It’s an eclectic mix of a new genre, Aboriginal sci-fi, “as a kid I loved reading science fiction” now he gets to write it.
In the short story, Mr. Gizmo, Drew says: “ everything has a spirit, so I gave Mr. Gizmo, the toy robot, one too. It was a natural thing to do.” Reflecting native cultural teachings that all animate and inanimate beings have intelligence.
Mr. Gizmo becomes the only friend to a lonely suicidal teenager encouraging him to choose a better way.
In the book Mr. Gizmo, Hayden Taylor writes: “Taking your own life because life is painful, that doesn’t end it. More often than not, that spreads the pain. One person, then another, probably another will see what you’ve done. Some might follow. Or it might just be your family, sitting there at your funeral, crying, blaming themselves. Suicide becomes a virus, spreading across the youth of a community. And it spreads sadness to everyone.”
This is Hayden Taylor’s own philosophy, “The darker things get, the brighter you have to shine,” he says.
This is not sci-fi, this is real life. But that’s Drew, getting to the heart of us all.
Despite a very open and welcome smile, Drew – as everyone calls him at Curve Lake FN – including all his aunties and cousins that come over for “Omelette Sundays”, gives an impression of being a very private person. The real Drew Hayden Taylor is revealed in his writings. His most intimate thoughts appear on paper.
As he comments on native literature, “it’s important to know the stories but attitudes shift as you grow older, a lot has been said and should be said by the oppressed, the depressed and the suppressed, about getting your voice back but there comes a time when as a culture we have to move on from victim narratives.”
Drew Hayden Taylor continues to write and this fall has been exceptionally productive.
At the National Arts Center:” Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion.” Oct 4-14, 2017.
The Magus Theatre, Thunder Bay: “Only drunks and Children Tell the Truth.” Oct. 26-Nov.11,2017.
Theatre Antigonish, Nova Scotia, “Cerulean Blue”. Nov. 8-19, 2017
Documentary on Germany’s Obsession with Native Culture, airing the 2nd Sunday in January, 2018, on CBC.