Earlier this week, Ontario reported its highest daily COVID case count. In a week’s time, results from the US election will largely determine the direction that humanity is moving in. If we’re being honest, none of us truly know where things are heading, or how this will end. Given that, how do we find a path forward? It’s a question that TEDxToronto put to nine of the city’s top minds, and on October 29th they’ll share their vision at the digital event ‘Uncharted’.

Award-winning author Catherine Hernandez, who forever disrupted Can-Lit with her poignant and gutsy debut novel Scarborough, will be one of the outstanding individuals to take the (virtual) stage. With her deep sense of empathy beautifully revealed in every paragraph she writes, we’re eager to hear her perspective and see where she takes us. What intrigues us further is to see how the subject of her new novel Crosshairs, which paints a vision of a dystopian Toronto society, informs her TEDx address.

In awe, we connected with Catherine to ask her about a variety of things we were curious to know.

What came to mind when you first heard about this year’s “Uncharted” theme?

The theme felt timely. My partner put it perfectly: From parenting to growing old to our relationships with one another, we are laying down the track as the train is fast approaching.

What is the most precious part of your day, and how do you use that time?

I have chronic fatigue and illness, which means my energy is in short supply and it’s most abundant early in the morning. When I wake up at 6am, I do yoga while the sun is slowly rising, I write, I eat well, I enjoy solitude and silence.

When you are feeling discouraged, or experiencing a phase when you’re not feeling that confident, what do you do to stay motivated? 

These are usually signs that I am misaligned with the messages the universe wants to give me as an artist conduit. It means I have to self-care to realign myself and receive what’s needed for me to do my work. I eat food that nourishes me. I move my body if it wants to. I allow my body to rest if it wants to. I surround myself with good energy and good people.

What decision have you made in recent years that has forever altered your path or outlook?

I realized that self-care was the sieve through which no one who is willing to hurt you shall pass. The more time I gave myself to heal from trauma, the less likely hurtful people showed up in my life. They just magically stopped appearing and in their place were solid, sincere and sustainable relationships I have to this day. 

What’s a lesson that someone taught you that has always stayed with you / served you well?

My late mother always taught me to make lists. The list makes enormous tasks seem achievable. I use lists all the time and it’s how I manage my bananas schedule, which includes book events, producer meetings, workshops and artistic leadership.

Uncharted territory can be scary – but what excites you about the unknown? 

I love to be challenged in my craft. At the moment I have been blessed with some major opportunities that are unchartered territory for me, and yet, feel so right in this chapter of my life. When we shift our mindset from being put into a scary situation to being offered a challenge we can accept, it helps our body be more open to generative failure and triumphant success.

What is bringing you joy these days?

My partner and I wake up every morning and walk the stretch of lake by our house. It helps with our mental health after the pandemic hit. Moving our bodies, reconnecting over conversation and enjoying the scenery has helped us weather this storm together.

The first event in the TEDxToronto Uncharted Digital Event Series will be held on October 29th at 7p.m. Get your tickets now.