2024 Festival:
October 21–27
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Permanent Astonishment: Tomson Highway in Conversation

One of the most acclaimed Indigenous writers and performers in Canada shares his epic life story in a new memoir and conversation. Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on an island in the sub-Arctic, the 11th of 12 children in a nomadic Cree family. Permanent Astonishment shares his joy of the natural world and his family—from being pulled by dogsled beneath a night sky alive with stars to singing country music songs around the campfire. He also shares what happened after and away from that idyllic childhood; flown to residential school when he was six years old, where his younger brother, René, soon joined him. Permanent Astonishment is also an embrace to René’s final words when he died too young. “Don’t mourn me, be joyful,” he said. Highway demonstrates just that through a hilarious and profound work that explores culture, conquest, and survival. Hear him tell his tale in conversation with Bill Richardson.

This event is Pay What You Can! Book a ticket to this event to receive a link to watch the livestream wherever you are. After the Festival, you’ll also receive access to a recording of the event, which will be available to rewatch for one week.

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This event is also simulcast at our in-person cinema, The Nest. Many of our digital events are also streaming onsite at The Nest. Please note that seating at this venue is first-come-first-served by donation at the door. Read more about The Nest Cinema. *You may watch cinema events in The Nest, or stream comfortably from home.

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Participants and Speakers

Tomson Highway

TOMSON HIGHWAY is the celebrated author of the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen and several plays including The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, both of which won Dora Mavor Moore Awards and Floyd S. Chalmers Awards. He has criss-crossed North America, Europe, and the world with his readings, lectures, piano performances, and teaching engagements. He divides his time between Canada and Italy. (QUÉBEC/ITALY)

Bill Richardson

BILL RICHARDSON is the author of Last Week, an illustrated children’s book that sensitively portrays medical assistance in dying (MAiD); I Saw Three Ships, a collection of stories set in Vancouver’s West End; and Hare B&B, a picture book with illustrations by Bill Pechet.