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Renowned First Nations authors to share their stories at Gathering

The third annual event Sept. 19-21 event includes Lee Maracle, Sherry Lawson, Jesse Thistle, and other acclaimed and eminent Indigenous authors
Sherry Lawson, a Chippewas of Rama First Nation elder, will be sharing her delightful stories at the third annual Gathering: Festival of First Nations Stories being held in Midland, from Sept. 19-21. Contributed photo

For the third year in a row, the Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture (Orillia Centre) is bringing together a stellar group of First Nations authors for Gathering.

The three-day festival takes place at various locations in Midland, from Sept. 19-21, kicking off with a Community Welcome at 5:30 p.m., on Sept. 19, at the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre (GBNFC). 

Elder John Rice will welcome the visiting authors with a traditional prayer and greeting. The GBNFC Youth Drum Group will play a welcome song and a travelling song. Authors Lee Maracle and Daniel Heath Justice will speak and read from their works. 

The Community Welcome event is free to the public and everyone is invited. 

Tomson Highway takes the stage at the Midland Cultural Centre (MCC) the next day to present Songs in the Key of Cree. The public will get to enjoy multiple readings on day three.

Midland Public Library and the MCC will host various Indigenous authors and artists: Tsista Kennedy, Alicia Elliott, Jesse Thistle, Arthur Stevens, Darrel J. McLeod and our very own Sherry Lawson. Cherie Dimaline will close the festival with a reading at the Huronia Museum.

“We have so many gifts to share with the world,” says Sherry Lawson, a Chippewas of Rama First Nation elder. “Our creation story tells of how in the future the other three races of man will come to the First Nations people and ask for their help and advice. The old people believe that time is now.”

The grandmother of four is known for her three books and influence in the community through her volunteer work. Lawson is currently working on a fourth book.

“I want to leave stories of my life so my grandkids will know how valuable their family, their clan, their community, and their people are,” she says.

Lawson says she believes there aren’t enough Indigenous authors to tell the stories of their ancestors and traditions and more need to be encouraged to write through such gatherings.

“Sherry Lawson’s unique brand of storytelling and writing, deeply rooted in her own family and community, is right at home in our roster of readers and presenters,” says Fred Addis, Orillia Centre programming committee member, who put together the outstanding lineup of First Nations authors.

For three consecutive years we have presented Canada’s leading voices in First Nations writing, he notes. 

“Their stories are as profound and diverse as the many cultures they represent,” says Addis. “They provide a layer of observation and understanding that we can never hope to get from electronic media soundbites.”  

For more information on other upcoming Orillia Centre programs, visit

To buy tickets for Gathering, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the handle @OrilliaCentre. For special group rates, contact Michael Martyn, General Manager, Orillia Centre, at

The Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture is a registered charity, which began its activities in 2015 in the Orillia and area. Orillia Centre is committed to and firmly believes in providing Orillia and area with experiences in contemporary arts.