Two-Spirit Transgender Ktunaxa Author, Academic and Poet
Smokii Sumac (Ktunaxa) is a poet and PhD Candidate in Indigenous Studies at Trent University, where his work centers on the question: how do we come home? As an Indigenous adoptee, intergenerational residential school survivor, and two-spirit person, Smokii's lived experiences are deeply embedded into his art and research.
In his debut poetry collection you are enough: love poems for the end of the world, Smokii Sumac has curated a selection of works from two years of a near daily poetry practice. What began as a sort of daily online poetry journal using the hashtag #haikuaday, has since transformed into a brilliant collection of storytelling drawing upon Indigenous literary practice, and inspired by works like Billy Ray Belcourt’s This Wound is a World, and Tenille Campbell’s #IndianLovePoems.
With sections dealing with recovery from addiction and depression, coming home through ceremony, and of course, as the title suggests, on falling in and out of love, Sumac brings the reader through two years of life as a Ktunaxa Two-Spirit person. In this moving collection, Sumac addresses the grief of being an Indigenous person in Canada, shares timely (and sometimes hilarious) musings on consent, sex, and gender, introduces readers to people and places he has loved and learned from, and through it all, helps us all come to know that we are enough, just as we are.
Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award in Published Poetry in English and short-listed for the 2020 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.
Photo Credit: Mel Beaulieu
“The first Smokii poem I read came to me at a time when I was constantly wondering if my two spirit identity would have impacted my relationship with my grandmother had she been alive to witness me fully become myself. I spent a lot of time worrying that she would be disappointed in me or love me less. When I read Smokii’s words they felt meant for me. I spent a year with that poem constantly on my mind, and was eventually moved to create beadwork around the poem that healed a piece of my queer heart.”
Photo Credit: Caroline White
“I knew I had work to do when it comes to understanding the Indigenous experience. I'd worked with a DEI coach before who was excellent, but I knew I needed to learn more from somebody who had insider understanding of Indigenous culture.
As a white lady from the UK (where, ironically, we are taught NOTHING about Indigenous culture), I had a LOT of work to do, a LOT of questions I was afraid to ask, and a LOT of shame around my ignorance on these issues..
Working with Smokii was a dream. He is an incredible teacher, explaining often complex concepts in a way that always felt easy to grasp. A natural storyteller and fantastic communicator, he also creates a space where I felt comfortable to ask all those very uncomfortable questions. As a result of working with him, I've managed to transform the way I am able to honour and acknowledge the experience of Indigenous people in my work in a way that is both respectful, and does the important work of teaching others who are where I was, before I worked with Smokii. He's extremely smart, very funny and just a delight to be around. I can't wait until the next time I get to work with him. If you want your life to improve, hire him now.”
Storytelling, Keynote and Communication Coach and Trainer at YesYesMarsha.com
"Smokii Sumac presents with heart and power, sharing his own experience in a way that is relatable and moving to a wide range of people. As a poet, he has a captivating way of telling stories that represent his reality, which offers a unique and insightful perspective."
Executive Director at CBEEN
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Smokii is happy to announce that he has been awarded a grant for a brand new project supported by Canada Council for the Arts!
For those wishing to book future talks, performances and workshops, please note that Smokii is fully booked for Fall 2022, focusing on this new project. He is happy to take your requests beginning Spring (Feb-March) 2023 and onwards.