Book Women Podcast dives into writing, editing and publishing Indigenous stories

Three Métis librarians have teamed up to host a podcast about writing, editing and publishing Indigenous stories. 

Tanya Ball, Sheila Laroque and Kayla Lar-Son are the hosts of masinahikan iskwêwak - Book Women Podcast. All three met while they were working as librarians at the University of Alberta.  

The three created the podcast because they wanted to inspire Indigenous people to share their stories. 

"We approach it as storytelling isn't just pen-to-paper, it can be something in your body. It can be expressed through dance, illustrations, all sorts of ways," Ball told CBC Radio's Radio Active on Tuesday. 

"We're exploring what Indigenous storytelling is and what that means for the writing and publishing industries and how we encourage indigenous creators to get out there and do their thing," she added. 

Ball said none of the hosts are experts when it comes to publishing, so they've been able to learn a lot from the conversations. 

"It gives us the space for us to be who we are and not apologize," said Ball, who is a PhD student in the faculty of native studies at the University of Alberta. 

The first season tackles everything from storytelling through burlesque, to predatory publishing and cultural protocols. 

The women even interviewed Tammy Ball, Tanya's mom, about a memoir she is writing on what it was like to grow up in a Métis village in Manitoba. 

"Not all Indigenous stories are negative, so I thought that was a really fun episode," said Ball. 

The hosts are even taking burlesque classes after connecting with performer Brittany Johnson in episode 10. 

"It's not just about the podcast, it's expanding even further into different relationships and friendships, which is truly an Indigenous cultural thing," Ball said. 

Supplied by Tanya Ball

Recording the podcast has also given Ball, Laroque and Lar-Son a space to connect with each other. 

"We're three Métis librarians and there's not a lot of us out there. Even finding each other gives us a huge sense of belonging, and we're able to lean on each other in hard times," said Ball. 

The first season of Book Women is available for listening, and a second one is currently in the works. Ball would like to see the team to get out of the recording space and into the world. 

"I would really like to connect back to the land, like going back somewhere that's meaningful and special for me as a Métis person like Métis Crossing," said Ball. 

She pictures weaving the sound of the birds, land and wind in the trees into the recordings. 

"We are all connected in such powerful ways, and it would be really exciting to get that onto a podcast about storytelling."