The Importance of Telling Stories with Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor is an Anishnawbe playwright, novelist, filmmaker and journalist who first came to our attention last spring with a Globe and Mail column titled “Seven questions you shouldn’t ask an Indigenous person.”

Having spent a lot of time on the lecture circuit — pre-COVID, of course — Drew found himself routinely fielding stereotypical and downright offensive inquiries from certain audience members.

“I would be asked questions requiring me to answer on behalf of the entire First Nations population of Canada, all 634 communities, and the more than 1.6 million people in Canada who identify as Indigenous,” Drew says in the piece. “That’s a somewhat substantial responsibility.”

The Globe column, like much of Drew’s work, highlights issues pertaining to Aboriginal life with a humorous take on the topic — an intentional approach to his storytelling.

“Oftentimes humour, and I’m going to say the word the Indigenous way: all cultures use humour to both comment on and reflect the harm of society,” Drew recently said on the Leading With Nice Interview Series. “How I do this, how anybody does this? I don’t know. There’s no formula for it. I can’t tell you how I do it. It’s just experience. There’s that famous quote: tragedy plus time equals comedy, right? There are so many different ways.”

Check out our conversation with Drew below, where he expands further on the importance of humour in connecting with audiences, celebrating history and culture through storytelling, and much more.