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Book*hug revising pulled poetry collection

Toronto publisher Book*hug has announced plans to issue a revised edition of Shannon Webb-Campbell’s poetry collection Who Took My Sister? The small press pulled the book in April upon learning that Webb-Campbell, a Montreal-based poet of Mi’kmaq and settler ancestry, had not contacted the families of the murdered and missing Indigenous women who are written about in the collection.

“As a Mi’kmaq author, as an editor, and as publishers, we are learning from and working to bring Indigenous knowledge systems into our various practices,” Webb-Campbell, editor Julie Joosten, and Book*hug co-publishers Jay and Hazel Millar said in a joint statement. “These knowledge systems will guide our collective work on a revised edition of the book, which will be released in the coming months.”

In a March 28 story for the Nova Scotia Advocate, Delilah Saunders responded to a poem that graphically describes the murder of her late sister Loretta. “[Webb-Campbell] never reached out to me or my family to ask if she could write about my sister, especially in such gruesome detail,” Saunders wrote. “There clearly is value in work that highlights the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the families and legacy left behind and how things need to change. What I do not see any value in is writing or creating work that vividly describes something so unnatural and traumatic as murder.”

Book*hug’s statement thanks Saunders “for her willingness to speak with us and for her guidance toward beginning larger, much needed conversations about the issues involved.” It also states that letters of apology were sent to the four families of women depicted in Who Took My Sister, and goes on to say that the author, editor, and publishers “are grateful for the responses we have received” from them. Through consultation with Saunders, Book*hug and Webb-Campbell have donated revenue from the original edition of Who Took My Sister to the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

No date has been set for the publication of a revised edition. A note at the end of Book*hug’s statement indicates that further updates are forthcoming as they move forward with this process.