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Associate professor Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber has spent the last four years researching, gathering and editing a Saskatchewan landmark anthology, Kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly. The anthology brings of over a hundred authors of Saskatchewan Indigenous literary and oral traditions together in one book, which will be released in May of 2018. Photo by Celine Grimard.

A first of its kind in Saskatchewan, Kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly is the four year project of Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber.

He is the associate professor at the First Nations University of Canada is striving to bring the rich Indigenous literary and oral traditions to the public in one anthology.

Editor  Archibald-Barber is no stranger to the publishing world, however a book of this scale is a first for him.

“(It’s) focused on Saskatchewan Indigenous writers and it's (a) historically and culturally comprehensive anthology,” said Archibald-Barber. The book launches on May 29 at the First Nations University of Canada.

Kisiskâciwan was made possible by the generosity of over a hundred writers who waved their permission fees for the book

“In the spirit of giving back to our communities, I’ll be donating the proceeds from the anthology to a special fund in support of Indigenous youth literacy and creative writing initiatives in the province,” Archibald-Barber said.

The book includes the earliest record of Saskatchewan Indigenous writing in English Archibald-Barber could find, which was in the late 1700’s.

Everyone from Thunderchild and Louis Riel to contemporary writers like Maria Campbell and Gregory Scofield are included in the anthology.

Archibald-Barber started collecting material from archives, libraries, communities and authors back in November of 2014. 

“I consulted as many community members as I could meet and just asking about well I consulted community members and ask them about their recommendations,” Archibald-Barber said.

University of Regina Press is publishing the anthology.

Publisher Bruce Walsh said, “It demonstrates how rich the Indigenous literary voice is here. It’s an incredibly collection. It’s mammoth, it’s epoch, and it’s beautiful.”

For young Indigenous kids Walsh said it will give them insight into their cultures and also be a source of pride.

“It’s a real landmark book,” Walsh said.

Kisiskâciwan was inspired by an anthology of Indigenous writings from Manitoba called Maniteowapow.

“It's a great way to honor the significant contributions that have been made to Saskatchewan literature by our indigenous writer and storytellers,” Archibald-Barber said. “Many of our stories and writers haven't received mainstream exposure in our history.”

Bits and pieces of Indigenous languages, such as Cree have made it into Kisiskâciwan, however due to page numbers it is predominantly in English.

“It was up into the couple thousand pages,” Archibald-Barber said. Adding it will now be around 450 pages.

Archibald-Barber hopes the communities enjoy the book but he also hopes that it becomes a part of the Saskatchewan educational curriculum.