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Meeting Gerald Vizenor

Posted on by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm
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Inspiring. That’s the one word i would use to describe meeting Gerald Vizenor. I was fortunate enough to meet him on his recent visit to Ottawa and to have the opportunity to interview him (for an upcoming issue of Rampike magazine), hear his lecture, and hang out with him a bit. After the interview the world was electric. I was spinning – filled with ideas and questions and energy. It was one of the most engaging and thought provoking conversations i’ve had in quite a while – which, given the company i keep, is saying something.

What surprised me the most i think was how completely humble and generous he is. To be honest, before the interview i was intimidated. The man is an icon. A brilliant icon. And lately, i’ve been pretty much out of the academic realm. In fact, as a single mom, i’ve been doing a completely different type of learning with the best teacher i’ve ever had: my 18 month old son. So yes, i readily admit it: i was nervous. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity to have a really stimulating conversation but since i am in a sleep deprived haze more often than not these days, it was a real possibility. So, i did my homework AND i talked to friends – really smart friends. Friends like Rampike editor Karl Jirgens and our own Daniel Heath Justice. Friends like Niigonwedom Sinclair and Neal McLeod and Sam McKegney. Yep, i brought out the big guns. And, of course, i read whatever i could find online. Still, i was nervous. So nervous i forgot my camera in my car.

Little did i know what a warm welcome i would receive and how easy it would be to talk to Gerald. (Look for the interview in an upcoming issue of Rampike – i’ll keep you posted on that.)

Truly one of the nicest people i’ve met lately. Here’s a pic of my good friend and colleague Sam McKegney and me with Gerald. If you’re jealous seeing me between two such amazing men, what can i say? Life is good!



About Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Writer. Publisher. Managing Editor. Snappy dresser.
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