The importance of multilingualism

© Jorge Cueto, 2015

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© Jorge Cueto, 2015

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The importance of multilingualism

As part of the Reading Circle

Seminar (full) - Please join us at the Talk!
Thursday, June 1, 2017 4-7 pm
(followed by a cocktail)

Talk (open to the public)
Saturday, June 3, 3-5 pm

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

For this second instalment of OBORO’s Reading Circle series, Tomson Highway, renowned Indigenous playwright, author, performer and Trickster will be discussing in a seminar his book A Tale of Monstrous Extravagance. Through the use of witty storytelling, biographical re-encounters and observations, he explores the ways in which multilingualism has broadened and shaped his life. “Speaking one language, I submit, is like living in a house with one window only; all you see is that one perspective when, in point of fact, dozens, hundreds, of other perspectives exist and one must, at the very least, heed them, see them, hear them.”

Highway is also a composer and world-class pianist, therefore he examines the importance of music being “the original and only universal language, the only one understood and spoken in all 195 countries on this planet.” Fluent in Cree, Dene, English, French, Latin and Spanish, he reflects on how the influence of community and language has developed his insight towards the power of cultural learning and communication.

Ensuing from the seminar, a talk entitled The importance of multilingualism will be open to the general public. Here Tomson Highway, accompanied by a piano, promises to take us through a comical multilingual journey that allows us to understand the impact of language and culture from an Indigenous perspective. “Fasten your chastity belts, ladies and gentlemen, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.”

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Tomson Highway

From his legendary birth in a snowbank in northwestern Manitoba, through his metamorphosis to citizen-artist of the world, polyglot, playwright, pianist, storyteller, and irreverent disciple of the Trickster, Tomson Highway rides roughshod through the languages and communities that have shaped him. Cree, Dene, Latin, French, English, Spanish, and the universal language of music have opened windows and widened horizons in Highway's life. Readers who can hang on tight--Highway fans, culture mavens, cunning linguists, and fellow tricksters--will experience the profundity of Highway's humour, for as he says, “In Cree, you will laugh until you weep.”