22 February 2023 @ 6:00 PM PST (Zoom)
Joshua Whitehead
Kaitlyn Purcell
Register via EventBrite to attend.


Oxygen Art Centre’s Author Reading Series begins its 2023 season on Wednesday February 22nd at 6:00 PM PST on Zoom featuring Joshua Whitehead and Kaitlyn Purcell.


Joshua Whitehead is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary where he is housed in the departments of English and International Indigenous Studies (Treaty 7).

In the last few years, following the publication of his debut novel Jonny AppleseedJoshua Whitehead has emerged as one of the most exciting and important new voices on Turtle Island.


In his first non-fiction work, Whitehead explores Indigeneity, queerness, and the relationships between body, language, and land through a variety of genres (essay, memoir, notes, confession). Making Love with the Land (2022, Knopf Canada) is a startling, heart wrenching look at what it means to live as a queer Indigenous person “in the rupture” between identities.


Whitehead’s Jonny Appleseed won Canada Reads 2021, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the Canada First Novel Award and won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction, in addition to having been optioned for a four-part digital miniseries.


Joining Whitehead is artist, poet, storyteller, and scholar, Kaitlyn Purcell who is a proud member of Smith’s Landing First Nation, and the Writing Revolution in Place creative research collective. She is a PhD student at the University of Calgary studying Indigenous Literatures, Creative Writing, and Community-Based Learning.


Purcell’s debut book, ʔbédayine (2019, Metatron Press) follows narrator, Ronnie, who learns what it is to be a young Indigenous woman, almost-alone in the city; unable to hear herself over its noise, see through the glare of its lights to find the ground beneath her feet. Winner of the 2018 Metatron Prize for Rising Authors and nominated for a 2020 Indigenous Voices Award, Purcell’s writing is a poetic force to reckon with the complexities of an Indigenous female narrator.


In talking about the book, Purcell shares that “ʔbédayine is a series of stories inspired by my adolescent years in Edmonton. ʔbédayine is about sexual sovereignty. It’s about Indigenous ways of knowing, the importance of community, and the effects of intergenerational trauma. I’ve always loved my mother’s hometown Fort Smith, but, like most small communities, it seems like a difficult place for queerness to exist” (2018, Metatron Press).


The evening will also feature a reading by student writer from the Selkirk College Creative Writing Program.

Copies of Whitehead’s and Purcell’s books will be available at Nelson’s Otter Books or can be ordered online in advance of the reading. Those interested in attending the event can register via Eventbrite through the link on Oxygen’s website and social media accounts.


Join us on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 @ 6:00 PM PST on Zoom to participate in the first instalment of the Author Reading Series featuring Joshua Whitehead and Kaitlyn Purcell. Admission is free or by donation. Register via EventBrite to attend.


This event is generously supported by this Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance. Special thanks to Oxygen’s Author Reading Series committee.


About the Authors


Joshua Whitehead (he/him) is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary where he is housed in the departments of English and International Indigenous Studies (Treaty 7).


He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017) which was shortlisted for the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. He is also the author of Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018) which was long listed for the Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction, the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and Canada Reads 2021.


Whitehead is the editor of Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, which won the Lambda Award in 2021.


Whitehead’s latest book Making Love with the Land was published in 2022 with Knopf Canada, exploring the intersections of Indigeneity, queerness, and, most prominently, mental health through a nêhiyaw lens. The book was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Nonfiction.


You can also find his work published widely in such venues as Prairie Fire, CV2, EVENT, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead, Grain, CNQ, Write, and Red Rising Magazine.


Kaitlyn Purcell is Denesuline-Irish and an urban member of Smith’s Landing First Nation. Kaitlyn is a PhD candidate at the University of Calgary whose creative research meditates on mommy issues and intergenerational healing. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a doctoral SSHRC award and the Metatron Prize for her debut poetic novella ʔbédayine. Her writing can be found on ArtspeakEsker Foundation, and YYZ Artist Outlet.


Image Credit: Joshua Whitehead, photo by Tenille Campbell (L) + Kaitlyn Purcell (R)

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