Difficult Inheritances

Moderator: Betsy Warland

Event Number: 70

Free (pay what you can)
Thanks to the support of the Y.P. Heung Foundation, Government of British Columbia and Raincoast Books.

Difficult Inheritances

Saturday, Oct 26
5:00pm - 6:30pm
Waterfront Theatre

1412 Cartwright Street

How do we confront painful inheritances? Abandoned by his parents, Jesse Thistle fell into a life of drugs, homelessness and crime, before taking it upon himself to change. In From the Ashes, he shares his journey to reconnect with his Métis-Cree culture and family. Exiled from her Yemeni family and shaken by her father’s death, Ayelet Tsabari (The Art of Leaving) pursued a turbulent life of constant travel—until an untold family history enabled her to finally find herself. Adopted as an infant, Jenny Heijun Wills (Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.) overcomes cultural divides to build a relationship with her birth family. These memoirists explore the courageous act of facing one’s past in order to create more promising futures.

About the moderator:
Betsy Warland has published 12 books of poetry, creative nonfiction, and lyric prose including her best selling 2010 book of personal essays, Breathing the Page— Reading the Act of Writing and Oscar of Between—A Memoir of Identity and Ideas, which reviewers called “truly luminous,” and a “tour de force.” Warland received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Literary in Vancouver in 2016. With Myrna Kostach, Warland co-founded the Creative Writers Nonfiction Collective. She also founded and is a mentor in the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive program.

Event Participants:

Jesse Thistle


Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree from Saskatchewan and raised in Toronto. He is a PhD Candidate in history at York University where he is also an Assistant Professor in Metis Studies. Thistle’s doctoral work on Metis road allowance communities has won the P.E. Trudeau and Vanier doctoral scholarships, and he is a governor general medalist. Jesse is the author of the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada published through the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and his historical research has been published in numerous academic journals, book chapters, and featured on CBC Ideas, CBC Campus, and Unreserved. His most recent work is a memoir published by Simon and Schuster entitled From the Ashes.


Ayelet Tsabari

British Columbia

Ayelet Tsabari was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. Essays from her memoir, The Art of Leaving, won several awards including a National Magazine Award. Her first book, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Kirkus Review Best Book of 2016, and has been published internationally.

ayelettsabari.com, @AyeletTsabari

Jenny Heijun Wills


Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Seoul, South Korea and was adopted and raised in a white family in Southern-Ontario, Canada. In 2008 she reunited with her family in Asia. She’s lived, studied, and worked in Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and Seoul. She teaches in the Department of English at the University of Winnipeg.

jennyheijunwills.com, @JennyHeijun