I am a writer, theatre artist, educator, and public historian.
I was born in Ottawa, where I attended Lisgar Collegiate, and now live in Toronto, Canada. I received my PhD in History from the University of Toronto in 2010. My dissertation, “‘Toronto Has No History!‘ Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism and Historical Memory in Canada’s Largest City,” was an attempt to challenge settler amnesia and dominant historical paradigms. For several years, I taught Indigenous history at York University and developed and taught a bilingual Canadian Studies course called Decolonizing Canada/Décoloniser le Canada, at Glendon College, York’s bilingual campus. I continue to contribute to historical research as an independent scholar, though my main focus is new creative work.
My first book, Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America, was shortlisted for the 2000 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.
My most recent book, A World without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference, is about my experience as a sibling of a child with Down Syndrome who was institutionalized. It was released by UBC Press on October 1, 2019 and was shortlisted for the 2020 Lambda literary award for Bisexual Non-Fiction. My late sister Martha was a resident at the Rideau Regional Centre at Smiths Falls, Ontario, from 1960 to 1973.
I am the co-creator, with L’Arche Toronto Sol Express and Cheryl Zinyk, of Birds Make Me Think About Freedom, a play about the experiences of people institutionalized for intellectual disability, which won a Patron’s Pick award at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival. It has since been performed at Flying to Freedom, a March 2019 event marking the 10th anniversary of the closing of Ontario institutions, and in London, Ontario, on October 22, 2019.
With Ange Loft of Jumblies Theatre, I also cowrote The Talking Treaties Spectacle, a Jumblies Theatre community arts performance focused on Toronto area treaties and their contemporary significance, first performed at Fort York as part of the Indigenous Arts Festival in June 2017 and remounted October 4-7, 2018. An art and video installation, By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto, ran September 21 – December 1, 2019 as part of the first Toronto Biennial of Art. The video created for this installation has been screened at film festivals in Canada, the US, and Scotland.
I am currently co-creating an illustrated book, A Treaty Guide for Torontonians, with Ange Loft, Martha Stiegman, and Jill Carter It will be launched at the 2022 Toronto Biennial of Art. I am also conducting research on the history of Indigenous-settler interactions in the area north and west of Toronto for the Changing the Narrative project with Black Creek Pioneer Village, York University History Department, and four local First Nations.
I live with Mark Fawcett and have two adult children. I identify as queer and genderfluid.