Indigenous Speakers Series: Come to the t7kiw (fire)

“Well worth ‘zooming’ into.”

TRU Faculty Association’s Decolonization, Reconciliation and Indigenization standing committee put on a fabulous event Tuesday evening, March 23. Two noted writers, Gary Gottfriedson and Chris Bose read from their work whilst a virtual fire flickered on into the night. 

Come to the t7kiw (fire), Readings with Gary Gottfriedson and Chris Bose was “well worth zooming into,” in committee member Kyra Garson’s words. “Such wisdom, humility, vulnerability and humour [was] all thrown into a 40-minute mix and was just amazing,” she said.

Gottfriedson, who currently works at TRU, is from the territory now most dominantly known as Kamloops and has strong roots in his Secwépemc cultural teachings. He has a Master of Arts Education degree from Simon Fraser University and was awarded a creative writing scholarship at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where he studied under Allen Ginsberg, Marianne Faithful and others.

Naropa University is a private, non-profit, liberal arts university that offers undergraduate and graduates degree programs in the arts, education, environmental studies, peace studies, psychology and religious studies. 

Gottfriedson has published ten books and has read his work at events across Canada, the US, South America, New Zealand, Europe and Asia. “Gottfriedson’s work pulls no punches in unveiling the truth of Canada’s treatment of First Nations Peoples. His work has been anthologized and published [both] nationally and internationally.”

Bose, who adoringly spoke of Gottfriedson as his mentor and long-term friend, is of the Secwépemc and Nlaka’pamux nations and is a writer, multi-disciplinary artist, musician, curator and filmmaker. Bose has read and performed at universities, theatres and coffee houses anywhere from Victoria to Montreal and even spent time in Stockholm, Sweden, early in his career.

Bose said “[he] started reading poetry a long time ago. But didn’t really get the confidence to [write poetry] until [he] met Gary at a random poetry meeting up at TRU.” Bose stated repeatedly that he owes a lot of his confidence to Gottfriedson. 

“I was an angry young man… and Gary sort of took me under his wing and helped me to kind of guide that anger. He gave [my anger] focus and clarity. I remember hearing him say ‘creator gave you a voice, why aren’t you using it,’ when I’d go through long spells of not wanting to write. He helped me find the confidence and the belief in myself to accept that my stories and my poems were good and worthy.” 

Bose, like Gottfriedson’s stories and poems, is fueled by “outrage in the various hand he” and other Indigenous folks have been dealt in life, the things they have been through, and most importantly the things they have survived. He recommended that anyone try and find a mentor like Gottfriedson if possible. “[My] mentors really saved my life, I can’t say enough,” he said. 

Bose and Gottfriedson say their biggest influences are their people, family and ancestors. Gottfriedson says he “inherited his poetry” and “grew up hearing a lot about what [Indigenous peoples] fight was about… So, how could I keep quiet? How dare I keep quiet,” he said. 

Both of their books are available for purchase wherever fine books are sold.