Louise Bernice Halfe chosen as Canada’s new parliamentary poet laureate

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OTTAWA — Renowned writer Louise Bernice Halfe, also known by the Cree name Sky Dancer, has been named Canada’s new parliamentary poet laureate.

Halfe, who was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School in central Alberta, is the ninth poet to hold the position and the first to hail from an Indigenous community.

The Saskatoon-area wordsmith has won accolades for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works, and previously served as Saskatchewan’s second poet laureate.

A trained social worker, Halfe also works with Opik, a circle of Indigenous elders that supports apprehended children and their families.

In a news release announcing her appointment on Wednesday, Halfe said it’s a privilege to bring First Nations’ voices and stories to the forefront.

Appointed for a two-year term, the parliamentary poet laureate’s duties include writing compositions for special occasions, sponsoring readings and advising the parliamentary librarian.