Drew Hayden Taylor
During the last twenty-five years of his life, Drew Hayden Taylor has done many things, most of which he is proud of. An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nations in Ontario, he has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to being Artistic Director of Canada's premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. He has been an award-winning playwright (with over 70 productions of his work), a journalist/columnist (appearing regularly in several Canadian newspapers and magazines), short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, and has worked on over 17 documentaries exploring the Native experience. Most notably, he wrote and directed REDSKINS, TRICKSTERS AND PUPPY STEW, a documentary on Native humour for the National Film Board of Canada.
He has traveled to seventeen countries around the world, spreading the gospel of Native literature to the world. Through many of his books, most notably the four volume set of the FUNNY, YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE ONE series, he has tried to educate and inform the world about issues that reflect, celebrate, and interfere in the lives of Canada's First Nations.
Self described as a contemporary story teller in whatever form, he co-created and for three years was the head writer for MIXED BLESSINGS, a television comedy series as well as contributed scripts to four other popular Canadian television series. In 2007, a made-for-tv movie he wrote, based on his Governor General's nominated play, IN A WORLD CREATED BY A DRUNKEN GOD was nominated for three Gemini Awards, including Best Movie. Originally it aired on APTN and opened the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and the Dreamspeakers Film Festival in Edmonton. In 2011 and 2012, he wrote the script for the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards.
The last few years has seen him proudly serve as the Writer-In-Residence at the University of Michigan, the University of Western Ontario, University of Luneburg (Germany), Ryerson University, as well as a host of Canadian theatre companies i.e. Cahoots theatre, Blyth Theatre etc. From 1994-97, he proudly served as the Artistic Director of Canada’s premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts.
In 2007, Annick Press published his first Novel, THE NIGHT WANDERER: A Native Gothic Novel, a teen novel about an Ojibway vampire. Several years ago, his non-fiction book exploring the world of Native sexuality, called ME SEXY, was published by Douglas & McIntyre. It is a follow up to his highly successful book on Native humour, ME FUNNY. The third instalment, ME ARTSY, has just been released and deals with the Aboriginal artistic spirit..
2010 saw the publication of his novel MOTORCYCLES & SWEETGRASS. Randomhouse proudly proclaimed him “One of the new faces of fiction for 2010”. It was also short listed for the Governor General’s Award for fiction. 2011saw the publication by Talon Books of Drew’s newest collection of articles and essays, NEWS: Postcards From The Four Directions which explored Native existence as he sees it, in his own wonky style. This was followed by the publication of his two new plays, GOD AND THE INDIAN and CERULEAN BLUE. Finally, this year a selection of his best articles and columns were published by Theytus books, in THE BEST OF ‘FUNNY YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE ONE’. This brings his publication total to 28 books.
Drew was most recently a Writer-In-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University. This Fall, his 29th book comes out which is a collection of his native science fiction short stories, titled TAKE US TO YOUR CHIEF AND OTHER STORIES.
More importantly, he is still desperately trying to find the time to do his laundry. Oddly enough, the thing his mother was most proud of was his ability to make spaghetti from scratch.
Contact us for more information or to Book Drew Hayden Taylor for your next event.
- The New Buffalo: Exploring First Nation Education
There are few things more important to contemporary First Nation communities in today's world than education. Frequently referred to as 'the new buffalo', it has been a contentious issue for a long time. Truth And Reconciliation Commission wizard Murray Sinclair is quoted as saying 'Education got us into this mess. Education will get us out." With half the Indigenous population under the age of 25, how and what Native youth are educated is at the focus of much discussion. Drew shares his personal experience from having attended schools on the Reserve, to being bused into a nearby community, and finally attending college in a large urban environment. In addition to lecturing in over 300 Universities, Drew's work is taught in numerous secondary and post-secondary institutions. He shares his personal experiences trying to understand the world that is Canada, what is important to that world, and more interestingly, what First Nations need to learn and carry forth that in tern will be passed down to the next generation. Our ways of life have changed, so has the manner in which we learn. Education is more then learning, it is surviving.
- Expressions of Native Art
Art is everywhere. How we dress, what we cook, how we decorate our houses, are all reflections of personal art. Drew believes you cannot have a culture or civilization without art. It can manifest many of those little details that make a people into something uniquely concrete. Having travelled to over a 140 Native communities across Canada and the U.S., with a few stops in Indigenous communities in Australia and New Zealand, Drew has marvelled at the brilliance and scope of what could be called Native art, in all its many faces. As a writer, his first love is to the written word and his second love is to the spoken word. The stories we tell, tell much about who we are and having spent his professional life celebrating, exploring and participating in Native literature and theatre, Drew has a few stories to tell, some observations to share, and some insight that can be argued over. He dares audiences to take a peak.
- The Art of Reconciliation
The Indigenous buzzword of the last decade has been "reconciliation". What does it mean for the average First Nations person and for the average Canadian? Drew shares that he nor any of his immediate relations were ever in a Residential School, but they all still deal with the ramifications. Think of Native people as rocks that were tossed into the deep and dangerous pond known as the Residential school system. Not everybody was thrown in but everyone got wet to some degree. Personally, politically, culturally and artistically, First Nation communities are still dealing with reconciling. It took a hundred years to do the damage, some believe it might take another hundred to heal. Drew believes in healing through art, and he shares with audiences what today's artists are doing about Reconciliation, coming to grips with its many forms and faces.