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Master of Publishing Zoe Mix starts new podcast and career in Indigenous publishing

Multidisciplinary Métis artist Zoe Mix came to SFU’s Publishing Program with a degree in opera performance and creative writing. She says that while this might be an “odd background,” it set her up for success in a program that can be intense and requires a lot of collaborative work across a number of projects. The collaborative environment also helped Mix to expand her skills into a variety of areas, from book publishing to podcasting, and to grow her confidence in storytelling. She graduates this June with a new podcast and a new publishing role that set her up for a bright future.

Storytelling is at the center of Zoe’s interest in publishing. Through her time in the program, Mix was driven by a desire to help tell stories — like those from her Métis family’s history — that have not historically been told.

“I wanted to be the one that was in the publishing industry doing the work to help other people get their own stories told.”

In pursuit of that goal, Zoe undertook a research project exploring and contrasting the publication and reception of Métis literature in Canada and the United States — specifically bestselling Métis works including The Marrow Thieves and From the Ashes — and what conditions set those books up for success.

“It was partially a study of Métis nationhood in the US, and the history of how that has worked versus the history in Canada. When these titles enter into the US, they're not being reflected in the culture in the same way.”

Mix’s exploration of Métis publishing continues in her current project, a SSHRC funded podcast called ​​Métis Publishing Practices: Developing protocols for editors, writers, and publishers. For the podcast, Zoe has interviewed six different Métis publishing professionals about publishing protocols when working with Indigenous books. She was inspired to pursue the topic after being introduced to Publishing alumnus Greg Younging’s book, Elements of Indigenous Style.

“I thought it would be cool to have a podcast that's walking in the footsteps of that book and to interview different people who are focused on the different facets Indigenous protocol. From all the conversations came to be a theme of community building rather than just being a transactional thing.”

Community building and podcasting are a theme of Mix’s post-graduation plans, having taken on a work-study project with SFU Publishing Director Hannah McGregor’s Witch Please Productions that has grown into a digital marketing and production role with the company. Zoe produces Witch Please’s patreon-exclusive Making Worlds podcast about imagining hopeful futures and exploring speculative fiction that does the same.

On top of all that, Zoe has also taken on a position with Victoria-based Medicine Wheel Publishing. Medicine Wheel is a publisher of Indigenous children’s books with a community-based publishing ethos that has recently earned them the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award.

“I was super lucky to immediately move into a job that actually reflects exactly what my focus was in the master's program. It’s cool to see the protocol of visiting and spending time actually being manifested and working.”

With her Métis Publishing Practices podcast debuting later this year, and a strong network of support and colleagues that has grown out of her time at SFU Publishing, Zoe Mix’s future is looking bright, but what advice does she have for students just beginning on their publishing journey?

“I would say, just don't take everything so seriously and don't ever do an all-nighter. It’s not worth it. Just go to sleep and come back to it in the morning.”

Wise words. Sleep well.