Fast-growing Indigenous book club considered a success by Niagara organizer

·2 min read

When Patty Krawec, an Indigenous activist and host of the Medicine for the Resistance podcast, responded to a request on Twitter about recommended reading for people who wanted to better understand issues affecting Indigenous people, she didn’t realize how big the demand was.

Krawec created a thread on books individuals should read throughout the year.

She organized them by month, and included a theme that brought it all together.

“I turned my response into a Twitter thread, recommending different books for every month, and grouped them into themes,” said Krawec.

“That received a lot of attention on Twitter so I said, hey, would you guys be interested in a book club based around these books?”

The response was massive.

Krawec quickly registered more than 100 people who agreed to meet monthly.

As word spread online and the signup sheet increased, she identified her next obstacle: How could she accommodate and facilitate a conversation of that size?

She elected to hold panel discussions.

“That is too many for a conversation,” she said. “You can’t have any kind of coherent conversation with that many people. So then I switched the format to the panel discussion.”

The discussions, to be held monthly, are entitled “Ambe.”

Krawec said Ambe is an Anishinaabe word that loosely translates to “Let’s go.”

Despite the book club’s success, the overall intent never changed.

Krawec was adamant the exercise is about how individuals can move forward, relationship-wise but in a good way.

“What have we learned from history, of being good relatives to each other, about being human?” she wondered. “Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people are stuck living together in this place — how can we be good neighbours?”

With her intent clearly defined, Krawec held her first discussion in January livestreamed on the Twitch platform.

She said her first panel’s composition involved a “mixed bag of authors, academics and book club participants.”

The featured book was, “Why Indigenous Literatures Matter,” by Daniel Heath Justice.

Krawec said, “It provides an overview of a range of Indigenous lit that is a good foundation and will set participants up for the next 11 months.”

Ambe is scheduled to make 11 more appearances online, and as people continue to register Krawec said she is excited to explore more complex topics.

For information on the book club, visit Krawec’s website: daanis.ca/ambe/

Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: svanderklis@metroland.com

Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review