From adversity comes strength
Actress, visual artist and activist Storma Sire is co-founding a Sickle Cell Society for B.C.
March 17th, 2013
Born in B.C. from descendants of slave escapees, Storma Sire, of West African Akan (Ghanaian) heritage, is one of a ten B.C. writers featured in a landmark anthology of contemporary African-Canadian poetry, The Great Black North (Frontenac $21.95), edited by Valerie Mason-Jones and Kevan Anthony Cameron, including 91 Canadian poets.
Sire previously won the Best Emerging Author/Illustrator award in Children’s Literature from the Canada Council for her 2005 novel Lessons in Magic.
Storma Sire has Sickle Cell Anemia, a genetic blood disorder that is common among those with African or tropical decent. It’s cited as another influence on the themes of overcoming weaknesses and disabilities in her poetry and stories. Having worked as a crisis and suicide prevention counsellor, Sire is working with others form a counterpart to the Sickle Cell Society of Ontario.
Also a visual artist, Sire has been teaching art, creative writing and creativity classes at Langara College and for the City of Burnaby for nearly a decade. She has worked at the Vancouver Art Gallery for six years, and has co-curated a number of independent art shows. Her vivid and imaginative African artwork focuses on abstract, indigenous and subjective narratives, primal connections, and symbolic and archetypal themes existing inside and all around us. She has illustrated for the University of Brutish Columbia’s (UBC) Journal of Writing for Children and her paintings on stone and canvass are exhibited locally.
As a writer, Sire has staged poetry and spoken word events around Vancouver. She has co-written two independent feature films, two television pilots and one documentary on the homeless in the Vancouver called Goin’ Home. Shot in 2007 by Barbara James, the independent feature film, co-written with Gerry Atwell and Winston Washington Moxam, was the first black, full-length, independent feature film to come out of Winnipeg. The film won for best picture and best actress, and was nominated for best screenplay, at the Toronto Black Film and Video Network event which aired on Much Music and MTV in 2002.
At the Taormina Film festival in Taormina, Sicily (July 2001), Storma Mcdonald (Sire) was chosen to present the Taormina Art Diamond Award for the film Voices of Sarafina to International African Superstar Miriam Makeba. Sire’s collaboration with filmmaker Barbara James has been featured at home and abroad:
- The BFM (Black Filmmaker Magazine) International Film Festival, London, UK (Sept 2003)
- The Pan African Film festival, Atlanta, Georgia (Aug. 2003)
- The Pan African Film festival, Los Angeles, California (Feb. 2003)
- The California Film Institutes Mill Valley Film Festival, Los Angeles, California (Feb. 2003)
- Nominated for best screenplay and won for best picture and best actress – Storma Mcdonald (Sire), at the Black Film and Video Network in Toronto (Oct. 2002)
- Toronto’s Get Reel Film festival (April 2002).
- The National Screen Institute of Canada (March 2002)
- The 30th Annual Festival Internacional De Cinema da Figurira da Foz in Portugal. Won for best cinematography (Sept. 2001)
Storma Sire is currently writing a book of poetry call Red Cap. Her art can be purchased through the Window Art Shop in Vancouver at www.thewindowartshop.com or she can be contacted via Facebook. In 2013 she is a fourth-year psychology student going into art therapy.
The 272-page anthology Great White North was launched on the West Coast during the Verses Festival of Words at the Havana Theatre, on April 13, in Vancouver. Other black British Columbian poets in the new anthology include Lorna Goodison, Wayde Compton, Tanya Evanson, Juliane Okot Bitek, Jilian Christmas, Addena Sumter-Freitag, Jean Pierre Makosso and Joy Russell.
PHOTO: Storma Sire is one of 91 poets in The Great Black North.