Whole com­mu­nity read­ing Mo­tor­cy­cles and Sweet­grass

The Peterborough Examiner - - NEWS - JES­SICA NYZNIK EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER

A book au­thored by a Curve Lake writer will be the buzz of the Hal­ton Hills com­mu­nity this year. Drew Hay­den Tay­lor’s

Mo­tor­cy­cles and Sweet­grass was cho­sen as One Book, One Hal­ton Hills. It’s an ini­tia­tive run by the Hal­ton Hills Pub­lic Li­brary, west of Toronto, that aims to fos­ter read­ing and build com­mu­nity.

The pro­gram has run for seven years, with staff pick­ing a new book ev­ery year.

To cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th, staff chose a read that would pro­vide a greater un­der­stand­ing of the his­tory of In­dige­nous peo­ples in Canada.

“We were mir­ror­ing our na­tions fo­cus on rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with In­dige­nous peo­ple,” said Bev­erly King, adult ser­vice li­brar­ian at Hal­ton Hills Pub­lic Li­brary.

When try­ing to de­cide which book to go with, King said Hay­den Tay­lor’s name came up again and again.

With 30 books to choose from, the li­brary went with Mo­tor­cy­cles

and Sweet­grass be­cause it’s ap­proach­able.

“We like its hu­mour, it’s warmth and it’s con­nec­tion to In­dige­nous Drew Hay­den Tay­lor. themes,” King said.

The Curve Lake au­thor said he was flat­tered they choose the book, which was pub­lished in 2010.

As he was writ­ing it, he wasn’t sure if it would grab peo­ple’s in­ter­est, or even get pub­lished.

The book is set in the sleepy Anish­naabe com­mu­nity of Ot­ter Lake – a thinly veiled Curve Lake, Hay­den Tay­lor said.

The quiet town is turned up­side down when a hand­some stranger rolls in on a 1953 In­dian Chief mo­tor­cy­cle.

“It deals with mis­chief, magic and rac­coons,” he said.

Back then, Hay­den Tay­lor wasn’t sure if hu­mour would be ac­cepted in In­dige­nous lit­er­a­ture. Typ­i­cally In­dige­nous books have a vic­tim nar­ra­tive or fo­cus on the side ef­fects of post con­tact stress dis­or­der or his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives, he said.

“Mine was ac­tu­ally hu­mourous. It dealt with a more pos­i­tive as­pect and em­pow­er­ing as­pect of the First Na­tion com­mu­nity.”

The au­thor said he was en­cour­aged to take a hu­mourous ap­proach by an el­der on the Blood Re­serve in Al­berta. The el­der told him that he felt hu­mour was the WD40 of heal­ing for na­tive peo­ple.

“And I took that to heart, so I try to use a lot of hu­mour in my work as a form of heal­ing,” said Hay­den Tay­lor.

The Curve Lake res­i­dent has au­thored 30 books, penned plays and worked on more than 17 doc­u­men­taries ex­plor­ing the In­dige­nous ex­pe­ri­ence.

He’s cur­rently adapt­ing one of his short sto­ries into a play for young au­di­ences, is in the midst of a new novel and is get­ting ready for his play to open at the Na­tional Arts Cen­tre in Ot­tawa. Sir John A Acts of a Gen­tri­fied Ojib­way Re­bel­lion was com­mis­sioned by the cen­tre and opens Oct. 5.

Be­fore he heads off to Ot­tawa, Hay­den Tay­lor is mak­ing an ap­pear­ance in Hal­ton Hills on Wed­nes­day. He’ll be at John El­liott Theatre at 7 p.m. to chat about Mo­tor­cy­cles and

Sweet­grass and sign copies of his book. Tick­ets are $10.

The next day, Hay­den Tay­lor be in Tweed read­ing ex­cerpts from sev­eral of his books at the Tweed Pub­lic Li­brary on Met­calfe Street, start­ing at 7 p.m. Ad­mis­sion is free.

MIRIAM KING/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK FILES

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