Meet Windsor’s new Poet Laureate and Indigenous and multicultural storytellers

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The City of Windsor has named a new Poet Laureate and, for the first time, two new storytellers to reflect the city’s Indigenous community and multiculturalism.

Poet and spoken word artist Teajai Travis has been named the city’s first multicultural community storyteller.

“Expanding this type of program, and being invited to do it, to continue to do the work that I already do, but with a much bigger platform, is going to put me in a position to have a lot of other voices heard. voices that cling to important stories,” Travis said.

One of the projects he is undertaking in his new role is a cookbook to showcase the diversity of food traditions – using food as a vehicle for storytelling.

Meet the city’s first-ever multicultural community storyteller: Teajai Travis

Teajai Travis is an artist and activist. He was chosen to be the city of Windsor’s first multicultural community storyteller. He plans to begin his new role by creating a cookbook to showcase cultural diversity in Windsor-Essex.

“In my family, we’ve passed down soul food and it’s a recipe that’s passed from person to person and it’s a secret…but you have the stories that go with it,” Travis said, who is the executive director. of Artcite Inc. and an artist facilitator with Arts Can Teach Windsor-Essex.

Theresa Sims, the town’s first Indigenous storyteller, is a knowledge keeper, Elder and well-known voice on Indigenous issues.

“I’ve always been a storyteller – it’s multi-generational in my family. So it’s recognised, and the indigenous people [is] also be recognized as having a spokesperson and also having an ambassador,” said Sims, who is Mohawk and has about 27 nations in her family.

Sims do traditional openings at events, sing welcome songs, and act out stories for children and adults. She also shares the history of the indigenous population of this region, and this is one of the things she seeks to pursue in her new position.

Meet the city’s first-ever Indigenous storyteller: Theresa Sims

Theresa Sims is an Indigenous community leader, knowledge keeper and Elder. One of the things she plans to do in her new role is highlight how the historic contributions of Windsor-based Indigenous communities helped save Canada.

“We are the original people and we should be the ones who welcome people who come here because it is [the country] was not lost. We were allies in the War of 1812. We were allies in 1776 when they were gaining their independence from the British kingdom.

Travis and Sims’ appointments will be in effect until 2024.

Vanessa Shields succeeds as Poet Laureate of Windsor to Mary Ann Mulhern.

She is the author of six books of poetry and owns Gertrude’s Writing Room – a gathering place for writers in Willistead Park.

Talk with CBC Radio Windsor Morning On Wednesday, Shields said the four-year term would give him the chance to take his time on projects and partnerships.

LISTEN: Vanessa Shields shares her first poem as Poet Laureate on Windsor Morning

Windsor Morning9:17Meet Windsor’s New Poet Laureate

Vanessa Shields, Windsor’s new Poet Laureate, talks to CBC Windsor Morning host Peter Duck about her vision for the role.

“I’m really going to start at the grassroots here and do what I can to get to know the city a little more intimately, even though I’ve lived here all my life,” she said.

“There are so many places and experiences I have yet to experience, so I can’t wait to take my time and hone my poetic voice, and dive even deeper into this great city and tell their stories through poetry.”

Shields hopes to create a poetry festival and is currently working on the project with Marty Gervais, the city’s emeritus poet laureate.


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Being Back in Canada shines a light on stories about Black Canadians. (Radio Canada)
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