Call Number: Mss 247 (A.06-51)
Title: Marvin Francis fonds.
Extent: 1.5 M textual records and other material.
Biographical sketch: Marvin Francis was an Aboriginal
poet, playwright, author and visual artist based in Winnipeg. With
his 2002 book, "City Treaty", he established himself as
a unique voice in the Manitoba arts scene, one that was abruptly
silenced by his death in January 2005 from cancer.
Born and raised on the Heart Lake First Nation reserve in Northern
Alberta in 1955, Francis began his working life after quitting school
in 1971. He spent much of the following decade traveling across
the route of the Trans Canada Highway doing odd jobs. Arriving in
Winnipeg in the late 1980s, he studied at the University of Winnipeg
and University of Manitoba, where he earned B.A. and M.A. degrees.
"City Treaty", the work adapted from his M.A. thesis,
earned him considerable acclaim for his experimental yet realistic
approach to the writing of poetry. This was solidified in 2003 when
he received the John Hirsch Award as Manitoba's most promising writer.
Francis was quick to expand his artistic horizons. He wrote and/or
directed radio plays for the CBC, such as "The Sniffer"
and "Punching Out Judy", that reflected his unique perspective
on Manitoba urban life. Francis also expanded into writing short
stories (such as "Pencil Beauty" in the 2005 Manitoba
Aboriginal Writers Collective anthology "Bone Memory"),
designing visual art and creating virtual Internet exhibits. He
continued writing poetry, however, and was preparing a second collection
for release at the time of his death. He was also active politically
within the arts community of Manitoba. A founding member of the
Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective, he was also a board member
of the Urban Shaman art gallery and the Manitoba Writers Guild.
In these areas as well as his art, he was a passionate supporter
of Canadian Native people and the urban poor of Winnipeg.
Scope and content: The Marvin Francis fonds displays
a wealth of background information on the state of Native people
in Canada in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as well as
showing the depth and versatility of a uniquely gifted artist. It
consists of four series related to the life and career of Marvin
Francis. It documents his writing career as a poetry and prose writer
with an indexed collection based on typewritten and handwritten
manuscripts. Included are drafts of poetry, short stories, and stage
and radio plays. Also in the collection is extensive secondary information
reflective of his career as a poet, playwright, visual artist and
actor, his work as a creative writing instructor, his participation
in writing festivals and readings, and his work as a principal member
of artistic groups such as the Manitoba Aboriginal Writers Collective,
the Urban Shaman art gallery and the Manitoba Writers Guild. The
period covers roughly from 1985 until Francis' death in 2005.
Custodial history: This material was donated by
Francis' partner, Cindy Singer, following Francis' death.
Source of supplied title: Supplied by common creator/subject
Arrangement: The files are arranged in rough alphabetical
order with adherence to labeled content. The original order was
followed where possible.