2024 Festival:
October 21–27
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Virtual Summer Book Club: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard in Conversation with Jónína Kirton

A must-experience event. Three of the most revered authors and contemporary thinkers in Canada discuss essential questions of the 21st century.

When the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, renowned artist, musician, and author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, began writing each other letters—a gesture sparked by a desire for kinship and connection in a world shattering under the intersecting crises of pandemic, police killings, and climate catastrophe. These letters soon grew into a powerful exchange about where we go from here, and into one of the most anticipated books of the year, Rehearsals for Living.

In this special event to celebrate the launch of their collaboration, the writers join beloved Red River Métis/Icelandic poet, author, and facilitator, Jónína Kirton. They’ll share their razor-sharp perspectives on histories of slavery and colonization and their ongoing legacies, and explore what a different way forward looks like. More than simply an engaging discussion, this event offers a new possibility for how we order our world — and an invitation to both demand and create it for our shared futures.

Rehearsals for Living is a captivating and visionary work—part debate, part dialogue, part lively and detailed familial correspondence between two razor-sharp writers. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, and reiterating the long-disavowed histories of slavery and colonization that have brought us to this moment, Maynard and Simpson create something new: an urgent demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up other ways of ordering earthly life.

“What a pleasure and honor it is to read two such probing and principled minds in conversation and collaboration. Maynard and Simpson dare to confront the most wrenching challenges of our omnicidal times, while finding joy and love along the way. A beacon of a book.”

—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough

“In their inspired act of ‘writing together, walking together, witnessing these times together,’ Robyn Maynard and Leanne Simpson illuminate in essential ways the entwined lives of Black and Indigenous peoples. Rehearsals for Living honours legacies of courageous revolt against the ongoing histories of dispossession, incarceration, and violence. It is a book of relation, radical generosity, and care – a book, too, of running children, and the colour of the sky, and of ‘holding within [ourselves] that nascent shimmering of possibility.’ Above all, it is a book that poses and answers these most urgent questions: ‘how are we going to live and how are we going to live together?’”

David Chariandy, author of Brother

 Prices include all taxes and fees. A copy of Rehearsals for Living ($32 value) is included in your ticket price, and can be picked up at or shipped through Kidsbooks. 

This is a virtual event. 

Presented in partnership with SFU Continuing Studies.

Participants and Speakers

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, musician and member of Alderville First Nation. She is the author of seven books, including the newly released non-fiction A Short History of the Blockade, and the novel Noopiming: A Cure for White Ladies. Leanne has also released four albums including f{l)ight and Noopiming Sessions, and her new work Theory of lce.

Robyn Maynard

ROBYN MAYNARD is the author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (2017), a CBC, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail national bestseller. Policing Black Lives was designated one of the best 100 books of 2017 by The Hill Times, and is the winner of the 2017 Errol Morris Book Award. It was also a finalist for The Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers; an Atlantic Book Award; the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction; and the Concordia University First Book Prize. It received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, as well as glowing reviews in the Toronto StarThe Globe and MailNOW Toronto, Maclean’s, and the Ottawa Citizen. It was translated into French as NoirEs sous surveillance: Esclavage, répression et violence d’État au Canada, and won the prestigious Prix des libraires award in 2019.    

Jónína Kirton

JÓNÍNA KIRTON is a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet. She graduated from the Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio in 2007, where she is now an instructor. Her first collection of poetry, page as bone ~ ink as blood, was released in April 2015 with Talonbooks. A late blooming poet, she was sixty-one when she received the 2016 Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. Her second collection of poetry, An Honest Woman, was a finalist in the 2018 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Her third book, Standing in a River of Time, will be out in April 2022, again with Talonbooks.