Congratulations! Battle of the Books Winner - Lori Campbell

Monday, October 29, 2018

Lori CampbellEvery October since 2013, the Waterloo Public Library has invited local leaders and celebrities to compete in their Battle of the Books. This year’s winner is St. Paul’s Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre Director, Lori Campbell. Like the other participants in the 2018 event, Lori Campbell was invited to champion a book of her choice. She chose the autobiography Halfbreed.

While organizers always encourage participants to make the competition entertaining, Campbell says she only used two competitive techniques: one, she pointed out that the two other Indigenous authors featured both acknowledge Halfbreed as a foundational work that helped them find their voices and tell their stories; secondly, she waited until the very last moment of her presentation to say that the author of Halfbreed, Maria Campbell, is her auntie.

Lori’s own introduction to this book was significant. As an intergenerational survivor of the Indian residential school system and a child from the Sixties Scoop generation, Lori has long been deeply engaged in knowing “who I am and where I come from.” It was during the process of finding her birth mom and siblings that Lori picked up the book, Halfbreed, but she had not actually opened it before her birth mom told her that Maria Campbell was one of her aunties.

“I went home and stayed up all night reading it.”

When choosing a book for the Battle, Lori thought about her two years of working as the Indigenous Student Centre Director and teaching in the new Indigenous Studies minor classes.

“Young people at St. Paul’s and in Kitchener-Waterloo really want to learn about the Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories and contemporary realities but haven’t had the opportunity to do so.”

Just as she sees her work at St. Paul’s as “helping fill in some of the gaps,” she decided to use the Battle of the Books in the same way. She says that, while many people have become aware of the residential schools after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,

“I wanted to bring to consciousness that there have always been Indigenous people fighting back, maintaining their sovereignty, and telling their stories.”

Lori Campbell’s Indigenous Studies students were in the audience at the Battle of the Books and will be among those who will have the opportunity to hear Maria Campbell who plans to come to St. Paul’s in the winter term to give a public lecture as part of the Indigenous Speaker Series.