June 29, 2018 | Rhonda Kronyk
In 2017, I was privileged to be one of eight Indigenous editors invited to the Indigenous Editors’ Circle at Humber College, Toronto. We spent five days with four renowned writers and scholars from across Canada. Over 30 representatives from publishing houses joined us and committed to changing the ways they work with Indigenous authors and manuscripts.
I have seen some of those commitments become reality in my own work. I’ve edited manuscripts by Indigenous writers and have written a photo essay for a Scholastic Books project called Take Action for Reconciliation. When members of the publishing industry reach out to Indigenous writers and editors, they make room for works that accurately represent Indigenous perspectives.
When the Call for Proposals for Editors Canada’s 2018 conference went out, I was excited to see that the organizers had included an Indigenous stream. From my perspective, that choice was a success. The presentations within the stream were well attended and included important conversations that showed the need for more information around increased Indigenous representation across the Canadian publishing industry.
Like many of the presentations at the conference, this issue looks to the future while referencing the past. It makes us question what the Canadian publishing industry could look like if we change the ways we work with Indigenous stories and writers. It also leads to the question of who is responsible for changing the ways the publishing industry works. I believe it is up to all of us.
Publishers must carefully question Indigenous stories that are not written by Indigenous authors. They must also do the hard work of understanding Indigenous stories, which do not always follow western models – and understand that they don’t need to conform to those models. Developmental and copy editors have a responsibility to confront publishers and fight for the accurate representation of Indigenous peoples when they find problems in manuscripts. They have the added responsibility of understanding how Indigenous and non-Indigenous storytelling differs and changing their editing practices accordingly. And Indigenous writers must continue to demand their rightful place in the Canadian publishing industry.
This issue contains no how-to-edit articles. Rather, these articles will make you think about how you can incorporate new ways of working with Indigenous manuscripts in your own practice. They speak to very different members of the industry, yet each article will help everyone better understand the complexities of working with Indigenous stories and authors.
Wayne Arthurson questions why publishing Indigenous crime novels is so far behind multicultural stories. Mika Lafond writes from the perspective of co-editor and writer navigating ways to make space for Indigenous voices. Karon Shmon shows us all how we can take action for reconciliation within the industry. Alix Shield gives us an academic perspective on the historical realities of publishing Indigenous stories and ways we can move forward. Finally, Suzanne Norman shows us how academia can create programs that will increase Indigenous representation, especially in publishing houses.
In the end, editing is about people – authors, editors and readers – and the relationships among them. In the two years since the Truth and Reconciliation’s preliminary report was released, we have seen relationships begin. Now we must find ways for them to blossom into enduring friendships where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Thanks to all those who contributed to this issue: our guest editor, Rhonda Kronyk; our wonderful contributors; translators Christine Ouellet-Dumont, Sophie Pallotta, and Lina Scarpellini; copy editors Rhonda Kronyk, Sophie Pallotta, and Alethea Spiridon; proofreaders Vicky Gregory, Jennifer Rae-Brown, Alethea Spiridon and Kiki Yee; managing editor Alethea Spiridon; WordPress wizard Aaron Dalton; the Editors Canada national executive council; and Michelle Ou, senior communications manager.—Anne Louise Mahoney