“I believe that students who combine critical thinking with creative writing are much more likely to write meaningfully,” says Armand Garnet Ruffo. “Distinct genres are being challenged these days, and this allows for exploration, experimentation and even an element of play. Whatever the genre, it seems to me that the one criterion that still holds true is to tell your story well, whatever that may entail, and to this end writers have to be fully committed to their work. This is the kind of inquiry that I enjoy bringing into the classroom.” Armand’s work—strongly influenced by his Anishinaabe (Ojibway) heritage—sheds light on contemporary Indigenous issues such as the environment, spirituality, education, and self-determination.

He is the author of several creative non-fiction biographies, two anthologies of Indigenous literature, a libretto, and five collections of poetry including At Geronimo’s Grave, winner of the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry, and The Thunderbird Poems that accompanied his creative biography of Norval Morrisseau, Man Changing Into Thunderbird, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award. Armand’s critically acclaimed film about residential schools, A Windigo Tale, won Best Picture at the American Indian Film Festival, and Best Feature film at Edmonton’s Dreamspeaker Film Festival. He also co-edited the 2013 edition of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English.

His most recent work is the poetry collection Treaty #, winner of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. A review in Canadian Literature says “Treaty # is not only about the end of the world that the treaties represent for Indigenous peoples. It also leaves the powerful impression that a return to Indigenous teachings of ‘Minobimaadizwin, The Good Life’ is humanity’s last best chance to avoid ‘the inevitable reckoning.’ Through distinct and powerful rhetoric, each of these books reveals and reckons with the crises that this place, our home, is in.”

An associate professor at Queen’s University, Armand teaches Aboriginal literature and creative writing, and lives in Kingston.

Appearing in Authors4Seniors.