Born in 1955, Prairie-born Métis/Icelandic Jónína Kirton has been much concerned with equity and inclusion. She coordinated the first National Indigenous Writers Conference in Vancouver in 2013. She is another graduate of Simon Fraser's Writers Studio (2007) and a recipient of the Emerging Aboriginal Writer's Residency at the Banff Centre (2008). In 2016 she accepted the 2016 Mayor's Arts Award for Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category, as selected by Betsy Warland, former director of the SFU's Writers Studio.
Kirton has been active within the Aboriginal Writers Collective on the West Coast. Loosely autobiographical, Kirton's first book of poetry, "page as bone - ink as blood" (Talonbooks 2015) is a memoir in verse that bridges Kirton's European and First Nation cultures. She uses poignant images and stories of the senses to explore family secrets, black holes of trauma, and retrieved memories. "What our minds have forgotten or locked away," she has written, "the body never forgets."
Kirton's writing has appeared in anthologies and literary journals including Ricepaper, V6A: Writing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out, Pagan Edge, First Nations Drum, Toronto Quarterly and Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine. She won first prize and two honourable mentions in the 2013 Royal City Literary Arts Society's Write On Contest. Kirton was also a finalist in the 2013 Burnaby Writers' Society Writing Contest.
page as bone - ink as blood (Talonbooks 2015) $16.95 978-0-88922-923-5
An Honest Woman (Talonbooks 2017)
[BCBW 2017] ILMBC2
At the Native Education Centre; photo by Tim Matheson