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Vancouver announces Christie Charles as the City’s first local Indigenous Poet Laureate

May 15 2018 Charles will be the fifth appointed Poet Laureate since 2006

“My project will connect the greater Vancouver poetic scene and the public to this history of local Indigenous communities, language and lands we live on today,” said Christie Charles.

Christie Charles,

Christie Charles of Musqueam, also known as Miss Christie Lee, was officially appointed at the City’s fifth Poet Laureate this morning at Vancouver City Council. Charles is a spoken word artist with a background in Indigenous hip hop and storytelling. 

The honourary position of the Poet Laureate celebrates the contribution of literature and poetry to life in Vancouver. Charles’ connections to multiple communities will help to build new relationships in Vancouver and elevate the role of Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and urban Indigenous poetry, literary, and cultural practices. 

“I’m thrilled that our City is naming our first Indigenous Poet Laureate, Miss Christie Lee,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “With deep roots in the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, Miss Christie Lee’s inspiring poetry will propel Vancouver forward as a City of Reconciliation and help build greater awareness, respect and understanding for Indigenous arts and culture.”

What Charles will focus on

During her term, Charles will champion poetry, language, and arts and elevate the role of Host Nation and urban Indigenous poetry and cultural practices.

She will host live performance events that connect artists, poets, and performers from First Nation, and urban Indigenous communities with artists from a diversity of cultural practices, both traditional and contemporary.

Charles will also translate submitted poetic writings into hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ —the Musqueam language—for a unique publication that she will create during her tenure as a legacy for future generations.

“My project will connect the greater Vancouver poetic scene and the public to this history of local Indigenous communities, language and lands we live on today,” said Christie Charles. “It will create new relationships and help elevate the beautiful and cultural understandings of my people. This will empower the young people from Indigenous communities and give them a path for creative expression.”

About the artist

 Charles is a member of Musqueam, with lineage to all three of Vancouver’s Host Nations. She is an artist who expresses her gifts in many forms. Growing up in a world of music, her focus has been hip hop, namely raps, where, as an emcee, she incorporates her traditional knowledge, stories, and ancient Musqueam dialect. She is a storyteller, poet, coastal hand drum singer, filmmaker, and a speaker for her ancestors. 

The Poet Laureate position is a partnership of the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Public Library, and the Vancouver Writers Fest. It is funded through a generous donation by Dr. Yosef Wosk. 

Learn more about the Poet Laureate