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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > MARCH 2017 > Keys to action

Keys to action

How three indigenous authors cut through the noise of social media to become online activists

Daniel Heath Justice

The Vancouver author and scholar counters the misconception there aren’t enough indigenous writers worth celebrating

DANIEL HEATH JUSTICE was frustrated. The University of British Columbia professor was tired of being told there wasn’t enough indigenous literature in the world to warrant its studying or teaching of, or enough works produced to even consider indigenous writing a proper literary tradition. “I knew that wasn’t the case,” he says. “I knew that there were ample people.”

Justice, who was born a member of the Cherokee Nation in Colorado (he is now a Canadian citizen), is a fantasy writer who currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture. He doesn’t remember exactly what sparked his decision to take action over his frustrations. But on Dec. 31, 2015, he started posting the name of one indigenous author to Twitter each day. A few people began retweeting his posts, encouraging him to continue, and then, scholar, author, and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson came up with the hashtag #HonouringIndigenousWriters. That’s when, Justice says, the project really took off. “I didn’t know what a hashtag was or how to use it,” he says. “I wasn’t entirely new to Twitter, but I didn’t have much facility with it.”

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