Corri Arnold-Daniels, Aboriginal events support coordinator at Laurier's Waterloo campus, is one of 28 writers named to the longlist for the Canadian Broadcast Company's (CBC) 2017 Short Story Prize for her story, Sweetgrass Spirits.
Sweetgrass Spirits is the fictional account of Marvin, a young Indigenous man trying to overcome adversity, who finds strength in childhood memories of his grandmother (Kokum).
Although a fictitious character in the story, Marvin is painfully real to Arnold-Daniels. He is her real-life brother whom she never knew.
Arnold-Daniels wrote the snapshot of what she imagined to be Marvin's life as an outlet for her grief after learning in the news that the brother she was separated from as a baby was beaten to death by a gang in 2003.
As a Sixties Scoop survivor, Arnold-Daniels grew up with a non-Indigenous family in Calgary, Alberta, while her brother, Marvin, remained in the custody of their maternal grandmother in Saskatchewan. The Sixties Scoop was a practice that took Indigenous children from their birth families and placed them in non-Indigenous homes, where they were disconnected from their cultural identities.
“Writing a storyline for Marvin's life, fictitious or not, allows me to grieve the relationship we never had or ever will have,” said Arnold-Daniels. “I'm starting to find myself as a result of this process.”
Tanis MacDonald, associate professor in the Department of English and Films Studies, isn't surprised by her student's success, as she has witnessed Arnold-Daniels creative growth since 2013.
“Corri's work demonstrates tremendous thought and consideration,” said MacDonald. “She writes from a place of uncertainty - which often serves as a foundation for writing. We don't write about we what we know; we write about what we don't know.”
Confident in Arnold-Daniels' creative skill, MacDonald and colleague Tamas Dobozy, professor in Laurier's Department of English and acting dean in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, actively encouraged her to submit her work for publication.
“We don't say that to everyone,” said MacDonald.
Publishing her work is a future consideration but for now, Arnold-Daniels is content to savour her current achievement.
The shortlist for the CBC's 2017 Short Story Prize will be announced April 12. If selected, Arnold-Daniels will be one of five writers considered for the award, which includes $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, a 10-day residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, and publication in Air Canada's enRoute magazine.
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