Emilie Smith-Ayala, now known as Emilie Smith, is a founding member of the Guatemalan music group Ixim W'anima and the Guatemalan Canadian women's group Nuestra Voz.

She was born in Cordoba, Argentina in 1963 to American parents and came to B.C. in 1967, attending school in Nelson and Vancouver. She attended UBC, was active in peace groups and lived within the Guatemalan community in exile, mainly in Toronto, after her marriage in 1984 to a former Guatemalan school teacher. Her interviews with Guatemalan women are contained in The Granddaughters of Ixmucane (1991), a superb work of oral history and feminism.

Marisol and the Messenger (1994) illustrated by Sami Suomalainen, is her kids book about a Latin American tiger who flees to North America when her father is killed. "Marisol was written with some very special children in mind, some dear friends, and my own nephew--all young people who lost a parent to violence in Guatemala," says Smith-Ayala.

Having returned to Vancouver, and writing under the name Emilie Smith (following the break-up of her marriage), she has co-authored Viva Zapata (Tradewind, 2009), this time dedicated to children around the world who don't have enough to eat--"like the 50% of children in Guatemala who suffer from chronic malnutrition"--and to all those who work for change. It's a fanciful tale about how Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata vowed to address poverty as a boy after meeting bandits who have stolen his black horse named Sombra. Smith's co-writer is Guatemalan-born Margarita Kenefic Tejada whom she befriended in a Mexican village that was located about one day's horseback ride from Emiliano Zapata's home.

As an Anglican priest working in the Diocese of New Westminster, Emilie Teresa Smith translated the YA novel Victoria (Tradewind 2013) by Argentinian-born Silvana Goldemberg who works as a kingergarten teacher in Richmond, B.C. It's about a Latin American teen who lives on the streets and survives by selling flowers, cleaning cafes and washing car windows.


The Granddaughters of Ixmucane: Guatemalan Women Speak (Women's Press 1991) 0-88961-169-6.

Marisol and the Messenger (Annick, 1994)

Viva Zapata (Tradewind, 2009). Illustrated by Stefan Czernecki, co-written with Margarita Kenefic Tejada. $16.95 978-1-896580-55-5

[BCBW 2013] "Guatemala" "Women"