Addena Sumter-Freitag

e-Books by Addena Sumter-Freitag

Back In The Days

"…bold-faced, broad-based and takes up space in a Canada that needs to be re-raced. *Back in the Days* is a book that will change your sense of here, and will eclectify your sense of self, wherever and whoever you are. You’ll love going back with Sumter-Freitag, whether or not you were there the first time around, because you’re here and now in her glorious storytelling."
Wayde Compton • Author of Performance Bond and editor of Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature

Stay Black & Die

"..offers the real deal on a Winnipeg upbringing that all of us should know about. She is a gifted storyteller who isn’t afraid to address difficult circumstances, but whose care and compassion for the people she represents is abundantly clear. She is one of those rare and revered storytellers who compel you instantly to listen up and pay respect."
David Chariandy • Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist for Soucouyant

From Addena: The transition of Stay Black & Die from a play to a book.

The original script for Stay Black & Die was very different from the present book. It was a script written from the letters I’d taped to my best friend, Beverly. They started with my anger and frustration at being an actress in a non colour-blind society. I taped my rants about being from a seventh-generation Canadian family and yet not being able to be hired to play the part of a Canadian woman whose husband had gone to war, or a woman in a Canadian neighbourhood—any neighbourhood.

I had gone to theatre school for four years, won two full scholarships to the Banff School of Fine Arts, and I knew I was a fine actor. I had worked for many years in theatre, commercials, and film, yet I had only been cast as a background player: as a maid, or as a hooker. I figured I had paid my dues. There were a few directors who did not typecast, but basically I felt like I was a kid again trying to make the other kids let me play. I gave up. I turned my back on theatre because it had turned its back on me. I quit.

At first the tapes I made were just about present happenings: I had left Canada because I had married a Black American (marriage number two), an Air-force man (I married him for all the wrong reasons, but there I go again—that’s another story), and I moved briefly to Ohio only to leave after a tragic episode that resulted in my running down the highway to escape (that’s another story; actually, it’s a poem).

The first tapes were stories about what I was thinking, and what was going on around me, but then something in those stories would spark a memory from the past—I’m a storyteller from a long line of storytellers—and soon I couldn’t help telling stories about what I remembered or had heard about my family’s past. Soon my tapes began to be stories about my mother, and my family, and my history. Every day I’d go to the post office and mail a tape to Beverly in Winnipeg. And when that tape was sent off, I’d start another. I didn’t know this at the time, but Beverly saved them all, and years later she gave them back to me. I transcribed them, and that is how Stay Black & Die evolved. My stories about growing up in Winnipeg’s North End during the 1950s and ’60s became a script about Penny’s growing up.  

The play was conceived in hurt and anger, but it ended up being birthed in joy at the memory of our lives, and love, and hope. 

Books in Print by Addena Sumter-Freitag

Stay Black & Die

Stay Black & Die is a funny and provocative story about growing up Black in Winnipeg’s North End during the 1950’s and 60’s.

Back In The Days

Back in the Days is a collection of stories and poetry that also provides a brief outline of Addena's family history.

Scroll to Top