Word Warrior

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The news of the Record no longer being published was upsetting to me as a novice writer. This was a place my pen and I considered home. It set off an odd reaction in me. My editor emailed requiring a final column from me for December. I had in the past had no problems sending him a column or two as requested. Then I found that my pen and my ease of putting words to paper failed me. I assumed it was writer’s block. I tried starting a paragraph or two, but it felt mechanical or wooden. It didn’t connect what I wanted to convey in my heart and mind. Then I tried writing about technical issues. Again that was quickly deleted. I was writing about issues that I had little to no knowledge of.

First I thought I’d lost my gift of words. I was considered a word warrior in my community. A writer who writes about social issues from my personal experience—from an Indigenous point of view.

So I tried writing for another publication and had no problems coming up with a brief article for them. I hadn’t lost my style of writing or my tools as a word warrior.

I realized that I don’t accept change easily and losing the Record as a publication affected me and my ability to write easily. Maybe if I refused to send in that last column there wouldn’t be any final goodbyes or a final deadline.

There have been too many goodbyes in my life. Yes, I realize goodbyes are a part of life, but not the goodbyes that I have had to say. Goodbye to my parents. Goodbye to my siblings. Each time I felt safe at the place where I was in my life. Then it was a goodbye time once again.

Subscriptions are necessary for a magazine to maintain its publications. Declining readership spelled the end for the Record. The staff and board made the difficult decision to end the Record’s lengthy publication. Still, this novice writer had found a home with its readers. Readers whom I will miss writing for.

My first column for the Record had me walking on air. The first time I saw it published. My name next to the words I wrote. Even a briefest of bio next to it. Like I was a real writer. That was what the Record affirmed for me. I was a writer.

Having my editor, Andrew Faiz, invite me to become a columnist for the Record was an invitation to a table of equals. Writing my story, my way. Being heard at a church level. My words not being watered down by the process of a church board.

As an Indigenous writer, I am going to miss the Record and the door that was just beginning to open for me and the stories that I have to share.

Hopefully this won’t be a final goodbye for this word warrior. Here is to hoping my stories will find a new home with the church.

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About Vivian Ketchum

My name is Vivian Ketchum. I was born and raised in the Kenora area. I am a Anishnabe of Wauzhushk Onigum, a First Nation Community outside of Kenora. I currently live in Winnipeg, Man., and have for the past 20 years.