In Memory of Lee Maracle (1950 - 2021)

November 12, 2021 | Jamie

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Lee Maracle
Lee Maracle

Yesterday, the Indigenous literary community lost an incredible Stó:lō author, Lee Maracle (1950 – 2021).

In the 1970s, Maracle, a Grandmother of Indigenous literature, was among the first of many Indigenous authors to be published. She helped forge a path for Indigenous literature as we know it.

Her debut book, Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel was released in 1975, and many other stories she has written have been critically acclaimed. In all, she published over a dozen books in various genres, and had works featured in many other compilations.

She received several prestigious awards and honours, such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2014, the Anne Green Award in 2016, and the Bonham Centre Award in 2017. She was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2018.

A member of the Stó:lō nation, she was the daughter of a Métis mother and a Salish father. She was the granddaughter of Chief Dan George. She was also the mother to four children, and grandmother of four. She was an instructor, an author, an actor, a traditional teacher, an Elder, and an advocate.

Maracle grew up in North Vancouver, east of the Second Narrows Bridge. She dropped out of high school, became a part of Vancouver’s hippie sub-culture, and eventually made her way to California, where she was a member of the Red Power Movement.

Lee Maracle passed away on November 11 in Surrey, British Columbia.


Her legacy at Toronto Public Library

Over the years, Toronto Public Library had the honour of hosting Lee Maracle for a number of events, from visits to small neighbourhood branches to large-scale gatherings, such as the Indigenous Writers’ Gathering in 2016.

She was also featured on one of our podcasts, Writers Off the Page.

In 2018, Maracle was also invited as a guest Elder to the Indigenous Advisory Council, to provide support in the development of TPL’s Elders in Residence program.

We also have many of her books in our collection, and we’ve gathered some of her best ones here.

On behalf of the Toronto Public Library, we pass along our sincerest condolences to Lee Maracle’s family, friends, loved ones, community, and all who were connected to her. She will be missed.