This lesson plan is intended as a resource to introduce students to the Next Wave Indigenous artist Tracey Lindberg, a novelist and professor of Indigenous law from Kelly Lake Cree Nation.
To download a printable version of this artist spotlight lesson plan, click the button below:
1. LESSON PLAN: TRACEY LINDBERG
Tracey Lindberg is a citizen of As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation, Rocky Mountain Cree, and hails from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation community. She is an award-winning writer for her academic work and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa. Her first novel, Birdie, was a finalist for the Kobo Emerging Writer Award and the 2016 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads. She was a juror for the 2017 Rogers Trust Fiction prize. Lindberg currently lives on Algonquin territory.
Tracey joined the New Constellations tour at the shows in Ottawa and Kitigan Zibi, reading both from her novel, Birdie, and from new, previously unpublished hybrid-form work.
2. HIGHLIGHTED WORK
Tracey read the following excerpt from a work-in-progress in Ottawa. This piece pushes back against the pressures on women to conform and make themselves smaller. It is from a longer work that has not yet been published and we are grateful she has given us permission to share it with you.
This work was written in English and the original is provided for the purpose of seeing and hearing how the work was performed in the New Constellations tour. The accompanying translation, though it does not attempt to reproduce the rhythms and sound of the original, provides a line-by-line translation for meaning.
Part III: This is the One for the Toos
Is for the Too
Too fat too loud and such
Too tatted and matted too proud
THAT too is
Where the change is made
Where I know who “you” is.
Where I see
Too girls with dicks
Boygirls with purses
Where the Truth
Kicks its way out
I see you
Engaged to disaster.
Instead of lamenting.
Too fills in the cracks
Makes the noise
We will not
Be the subject of
Because we scream
And love our
Too is where
Our refusal to break
The not enough
Too much is actually the solution.
So, for the
The front line
Of our voice and of our time:
Be too fucking loud
Be too fucking heard
Be too fucking changed
To quiet your
Too fucking revolutionary words.
3. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- What does the speaker of this poem suggest about how powerful women are sometimes perceived by the world around them?
- What does the speaker of this poem mean when she says “I see you”? How important do you think it is to feel “seen”?
- How does this poem name and celebrate a femininity that is active rather than passive?
- Read through this poem and circle all the verbs and put them in a list. What kind of information do these words give the reader when they are grouped together? Does a story start to emerge in your mind? What kind of story?
- What do you think the speaker of this poem means when she calls the words of the “too girls” revolutionary?
- The speaker describes young women who do not confirm to certain expectations of behavior and physicality. In what ways do you think women are expected to conform to specific ideals? How are these ideals communicated? Look for specific examples in film, television, music videos, song lyrics, commercials, and print ads.
- Have you ever experienced pressure to meet other people’s expectations that didn’t feel right for you? What would it feel like to push back against these expectations?
4. WRITING EXERCISES
Tracey Lindberg’s poem uses short, tight lines while at the same time celebrating expansiveness as she encourages the “Too Girls” to enlarge their spirits. How would this poem read if the line breaks were in different places, or if there were no line breaks at all, if it was just in a long paragraph? Write a poem with short lines, and make sure many of the lines only contain two words. How does this change the way you write? Notice how much more emphasis it places on the words you choose. Another technique Tracey uses here is repetition, such as the word “too”, which creates a sense of rhythm and momentum as it repeats through the poem. Write a poem about something you’d like to change in the world, using short lines, repetition, and your most “revolutionary” words.
Have you ever felt “too much”? Imagine yourself filling an entire room with your voice, your energy, your ideas, your dreams. What would that feel like? What if you filled an entire city? What would it feel like to fill the ocean with your words? What would it feel like to be the ocean? Imagine yourself without any restrictions, what it would feel like to do anything you wanted, go anywhere you wanted, to not worry about what other people thought of you. Does this feel natural or unusual? Fill a whole page describing this feeling.
5. NCTR'S IMAGINE A CANADA: AN INVITATION TO SHARE YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is calling on all young people to Imagine a Canada through the lens of Reconciliation! What is your vision of Reconciliation? What does it look like?
Imagine a Canada is an invitation for all young people, from across the country to share their own vision of what Reconciliation can be. It can be a poem, a song, a painting, a sculpture, a rap, a drawing, an essay, anything! This invitation is extended every year to ensure that young people remain a part of visioning Reconciliation in Canada. Imagine a Canada is perfect for students, from kindergarten to post-secondary, to explore both the past and our shared journey into the future. Collectively, we want to be looking into the future of Reconciliation and youth deserve to be a part of this visionary exercise. Imagine a Canada is a great way for young people to see themselves not just as concerned citizens, but as transformative citizens; to empower them to be the change they want to see in the world.
When studying work by contemporary Indigenous artists, it's important to consider Canada’s troubled relationship with First Nations and the truths about Residential School history, a context that the NCTR is dedicated to supporting in the classroom. As students learn more about this history, it is important to provide them with opportunities to contribute to change. Of course, learning truths about Residential School history can be very upsetting, and we want to continue that learning with opportunities to work towards a better future. Imagine a Canada is one such opportunity.
Friends and partners of the NCTR from across the country will help recognize and honour submissions in each region of the country and one entry from each province and territory will be selected each year to attend a national celebration of Imagine a Canada!