Peace Region writers assemble for Words North festival this weekend

Helen Knott is a Dane-zaa and Nehiyawak writer, spoken word poet, and advocate from the Prophet River First Nations living in Fort St. John.

Currently completing a Masters in First Nations Studies at UNBC, Helen was recently named one of 16 Nobel laureate-honoured world activists and one of 150 Indigenous Canadian artists honored with the Hnyatyshyn Foundation REVEAL Indigenous Art Award.

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She has published short stories and poetry in the Malahat Review, Red Rising Magazine, CBC Arts, the Surviving Canada anthology, alongside many other publications and poetry video productions. Helen has forthcoming academic pieces that focus on connecting violence against Indigenous lands and bodies.

Her first book is a memoir that weaves in poetry entitled, In My Own Moccasins Now, to be released in Fall 2019 by the University of Regina Press.

At Words North, Helen will be taking part in the panel discussion, Writing to Engage Community at 10 am, giving a presentation, From Hard Lines to Heart Lines, at 2 pm and a collaborative performance with Jasmine Netsena at 7 pm, all on Saturday at the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre.

Helen describes her workshop, From Hard Lines to Heart Lines as follows:

Writing uncomfortable truths that make people squirm in their seats is never the ultimate dream of writers. Hard lines are words written from the crossroads of injustices and oppression that often provide insight and build understanding. Heart lines are words that have evolved from human experiences that are emotionally charged with “the feels.”

Often hard lines and heart lines are intertwined and can be utilized to not only provide powerful social commentary, but to deepen our abilities to connect to each other as human beings.

Helen will discuss how she has used writing to heal from oppression and to illuminate social injustices. Discover the power that is in the uncomfortable and often avoided hard and heart spaces.


Music is Jasmine Netsena’s first language. From the age of five, the award-winning singer-songwriter, who is of the Dene and Tahltan Nations, learned to sing from her grandmothers in their Indigenous languages.

Classical voice training only strengthened that bedrock, and now, Jasmine has been honing her songwriting and guitar skills for close to 15 years. Jasmine released her debut album, Take You With Me, in 2014.

For her second record, she uses her voice to uncover long-buried issues. The daughter of a residential school survivor, Jasmine wants to use music to add to the dialogue of intergenerational healing. Jasmine has charmed audiences in New York City, Nashville and across Canada. In 2014, the Fort Nelson resident won Best Folk/Acoustic Album in the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards and was nominated for at Indigenous Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

At Words North, Jasmine will be taking part in the panel discussion, Writing to Engage Community, giving a presentation, Writing as Ceremony, and performing her work Saturday Sept. 29 at the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre.

Jasmine describes her workshop, Writing as Ceremony, as follows:

What helps you to find your writing flow? How does routine and ritual help us write? Some writers go for a drive or a walk. Some ski. Sometimes a simple “change of scene” can get your writing juices flowing.

Where does motion and writing meet? Join Jasmine in this discussion around writing, ritual and movement. Participants will also engage in some writing exercises, so don’t forget your notebook and pen (as if you would).

For more information on the Words North festival, visit

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