Tanya Talaga is an award-winning Anishinaabe journalist and author. An acclaimed storyteller, she is the author of the national bestselling book, Seven Fallen Feathers, which introduced us to seven Indigenous high school students who mysteriously died in Thunder Bay. In her powerful keynotes, Talaga shares Indigenous stories from across Canada and the world, humanizing the legacy of residential schools and colonization and sharing her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future.
Talaga is of Polish and Indigenous descent, with her mother’s family from Fort William First Nation. Her great-grandmother was a residential school survivor, and her great-grandfather was an Ojibwe trapper and labourer. Talaga is a columnist at the Globe and Mail. Prior to this, she was a journalist at the Toronto Star for 20 years. She has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism, and won, alongside her teammates, two National Newspaper Awards for Project of the Year. From 2017-2018, Talaga was the Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy through The Canadian Journalism Foundation, and in 2018, she became the first Anishinaabe woman to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures.
Talaga is also the bestselling author of two books. Her first book, Seven Fallen Feathers, won the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and the First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult Award. It was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction, and was named CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Year and a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book. Her second book, and follow-up to her CBC Massey Lecture, All Our Relations, was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and a finalist for the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.
Today, Talaga heads up Makwa Creative Inc., a production company focused on amplifying Indigenous voices through documentary films, TV, and podcasts. Makwa’s first film, Mashkawi-Manidoo Bimaadiziwin Spirit to Soar, explores what has changed in Thunder Bay since the deaths of the Seven Fallen Feathers. It was released on CBC and CBC Gem in September 2021 and received the “Audience Award” for best mid-length documentary at the Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival. A four-part podcast accompaniment, Where We Come From, was released alongside the documentary.
In recognition of her work, Talaga holds three honorary doctorates from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ryerson University, and Ontario Tech University.