More than 40 people turned out to listen to Patti-Kay Hamilton – long-time CBC journalist and Northern author – regale readers with stories of her life and work in the North at the Hay River Literacy Society’s fundraiser Jan. 26.
Amid tales spanning the territory and running with the rivers, Hamilton recounted how she began working for the CBC, as well as how she came about some of the best stories of her career. Tickets were sold out for the event, hosted at the Centennial Library, and people were being turned away at the door.
“We could have sold many more tickets,” said Marilyn Barnes, the event’s organizer and member of the society.
“That’s a very gratifying thing and it may inspire us to do the same kind of thing next year.”
Guests were treated to a variety of stews and bannock, followed by a plethora of dessert, before Hamilton took her place at the lectern, all in the name of raising funds for literacy in Hay River.
The society already sponsors books to be given to new parents to read to their babies, and has embarked on outreach campaigns, perhaps most notably, with the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre (SMCC).
“We want to keep being able to sponsor what we have in the past,” said Barnes. “We also want to do a few new things, but they’ll be surprises.”
Barnes lamented the lack of people willing and able to sit on the board for the society and said that she hoped evenings like the Hamilton reading encouraged community members to volunteer for positions if they care deeply about literacy.
“We need a couple more members to really get things going,” she said. “This is really a group effort.”
Barnes said she hoped Hamilton’s presentation served as a reminder that the North has its own unique style of literature – specific to experiences and stories rooted here.
“I hope that a few people will be inspired to tell their tales,” she said. “Maybe we’ll even find a few more Northern writers.”
Hamilton wished for the same thing, adding that the North is a fairly narrow field from which to convey experiences that are beneficial to readers from all over the world.
“From the time we’re little, we’re all storytellers,” she said. “We need more writers in the North, we need more people telling those stories.”
She herself knows something about telling stories to millions of people, having heard her coverage of particularly important stories – such as a mistake with potentially dire consequences at a DEW Line site uncovered – broadcast to a national audience.
“Hay River has always treated me well,” Hamilton said.
“No matter what story I did, no one ever threw peaches at me in the grocery store, which has happened in (Fort) Smith sometimes.”