Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit & Métis Literature – Winners

2015
1st Place
Author:
Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Skraelings is set in the ancient Arctic, but told by an inquisitive and entertaining contemporary narrator—a wandering Inuit hunter named Kannujaq, who happens upon a camp in grave peril. The inhabitants of the camp are Tuniit, a race of ancient Inuit ancestors known for their shyness and strength. The tranquility of this Tuniit camp has been shaken by a group of murderous, pale, bearded strangers who have arrived on a huge boat shaped like a loon. Unbeknownst to Kannujaq, he has stumbled upon a battle between the Tuniit and a group of Viking warriors, but as the camp prepares to defend itself against the approaching newcomers, Kannujaq discovers that the Vikings may have motivations other than murder and warfare at the heart of their quest. This lush historical fiction is steeped in Inuit traditional knowledge and concepts of ancient Inuit magic. (Source: Inhabit Media Inc.)

Authors: Born in an Arctic wilderness camp and of Inuit ancestry, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley is a scholar specializing in world religions and cultures. Her numerous articles and books concerning Inuit magic and lore have earned her a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Of Scottish-Mohawk ancestry, Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley is a folklorist and fantasist, specializing in mythology, magic, and Inuit lore. He has won an award for writing short science-fiction (“Green Angel”), but his focus is on fiction and non-fiction for a young audience.

Publisher:
Inhabit Media
2015
2nd Place
Author:
Frank Christopher Busch

The Grey Eyes use their magic to maintain harmony and keep evil at bay. With only one elderly Grey-Eye left in the village of the Nehiyawak, the birth of a new Grey-Eyed boy promises a renewed line of defence against their only foe: the menacing Red-Eyes, whose name is rarely spoken but whose presence is ever felt. While the birth of the Grey-Eyed boy offers the clan much-needed protection, it also initiates a struggle for power that threatens to rip the clan apart, leaving them defenceless against the their sworn ememy. The responsibility of restoring balance and harmony, the only way to keep the Nehiyawak safe, is thrust upon a boy’s slender shoulders. What powers will he have, and can he protect the clan from the evil of the Red Eyes? (Source: Fernwood Publishing)

Author: Frank Christopher Busch is a member of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and grew up in northern Manitoba. He has spent his professional life working with First Nations businesses, non-profits and governments at the band, regional tribal council, provincial, national and international levels. He lives in Westbank First Nation, British Columbia. An Aboriginal Father, Husband, Warrior, Author, Businessman, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. He is a practitioner of the Traditional Aboriginal Spirituality.

Publisher:
Fernwood Publishing
2015
3rd Place
Author:
Aaron Paquette

Lightfinder is a Young Adult fantasy novel about Aisling, a young Cree woman who sets out into the wilderness with her Kokum (grandmother), Aunty and two young men she barely knows.

They have to find and rescue her runaway younger brother, Eric. Along the way she learns that the legends of her people might be real and that she has a growing power of her own. The story follows the paths of Aisling and Eric, siblings unwittingly thrust into a millennia old struggle for the future of life on earth. It deals with growing up, love and loss, and the choices life puts in our path. Love and confusion are in store, as are loss and pain. Things are not always what they seem and danger surrounds them at every turn. Will Raven's mysterious purposes prevail? With darkness closing in how will they find the light to guide them? Will Aisling find Eric in time? (Source: Kegedonce Press)

Author: As an artist, Aaron Paquette’s work has gone around the world. As a speaker he is in great demand for his powerful messages. Aaron is First Nations/Métis, and he lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife and children. Lightfinder is Aaron’s debut novel.

Publisher:
Kegedonce Press
2014
1st Place
Author:
Monique Gray Smith

Tilly, a Story of Hope and Resilience is a revealing, important work of creative non-fiction loosely based on author Monique Gray Smith’s own life that tells the story of a young Indigenous woman coming of age in Canada in the 1980s. With compassion, insight and humour, Gray Smith illuminates the 20th-century history of Canada’s First Peoples — forced displacement, residen­tial schools, tuberculosis hospitals, the Sixties Scoop. In a spirit of hope, this unique story captures the irrepressible resilience of Tilly, and of Indigenous peoples everywhere.

Author: Monique Gray Smith is a mixed-heritage woman of Cree, Lakota and Scottish ancestry and a proud mom of young twins. Under the umbrella of her own business, Little Drum Consulting, Monique is an accomplished consultant, writer and international speaker. She is well known for her warmth, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience. Monique has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 20 years. She and her family are blessed to live on Coast Salish territory in Victoria, British Columbia.

Publisher:
Sono Nis Press
2014
2nd Place
Author:
Thomas King

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history — in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America. 

Author: Thomas King is one of Canada’s premier Native public intellectuals.For the past five decades, he has worked as an activist for Native causes,as an administrator in Native programs, and has taught Native literature and history at universities in the U.S. and Canada. King was the first Aboriginal person to deliver the prestigious Massey Lectures, and is also the bestselling, award-winning author of five novels and two collections of short stories.

Publisher:
Doubleday Canada
2014
3rd Place
Author:
Bev Sellars

They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School is the first full-length memoir to be published out of St. Joseph’s Mission at Williams Lake, BC. In it, Cheif Bev Sellars tells of three generations of women who attended the school, interweaving the personal histories of her grandmother and her mother with her own. She tells of hunger, forced labour, and physical beatings, often with a leather strap, and also of the demand for conformity in a culturally alien institution where children were confined and denigrated for failure to be White and Roman Catholic.

Author: Bev Sellars is chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She returned to the First Nations community of Soda Creek after an extended period of “visiting other territories.” While she was away, she earned a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia, and she served as adviser for the B.C. Treaty Commission. She was first elected chief in 1987 and has spoken out on behalf of her community on racism and residential schools and on the environmental and social threats of mineral resource exploitation in her region. Her first book, They Called Me Number One, spent 52 weeks on the B.C. best seller list while winning the 2014 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and being shortlisted for the 2014 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (B.C. Book Prizes) along the way.

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Publisher:
Talonbooks
2013
1st Place
Author:
Richard Wagamese

Indian Horse is about the journey Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family, to residential school, salvation comes through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in 1960s Canada, he battles racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.

Author: Richard Wagamese is one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. He has been working as a professional writer since 1979. He's been a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster, documentary producer and the author of thirteen books.

Publisher: Douglas and McIntyre

"Richard Wagamese has seamlessly woven an accessible sports novel into the fabric of an Indigenous story of battles against history, substance abuse, and the often unrealistic expectations placed on our most gifted and talented youth." — Jury, Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature  

Publisher:
Douglas and McIntyre
2013
2nd Place
Author:
Tara Lee Morin

As I Remember It tells the story of the author’s own childhood and adolescence. She gives first-person insight into the issues and struggles faced by foster children and teens. She draws the reader in, with her unblinking portrait of a young girl who triumphs over rejection and abuse, thanks to her indomitable spirit and the efforts of a pair of unique foster parents.

Author: Born in Northern Manitoba, and a foster child, Tara Lee Morin lives in a small town in northern B.C. She is currently writing a sequel to her memoir As I Remember It, as well as an illustrated children’s book about children entering foster care. 

Publisher: Theytus Books

"Tara Lee Morin unflinchingly and unapologetically recounts the harrowing experiences of her young life, and in doing so gives voice to the many marginalized members of Canada’s Indigenous communities. As I Remember It, like In Search of April Raintree, Halfbreed, and Thunder Through My Veins, has the potential to save lives." — Jury, Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature

Publisher:
Theytus Books
2013
3rd Place
Author:
James Bartleman

As Long as the Rivers Flow follows one girl, Martha, from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario who is "stolen" from her family at the age of six and flown far away to residential school. Ten long years later, Martha finds her way home again, barely able to speak her native tongue. The memories of abuse at the residential school are so strong that she tries to drown her feelings in drink, and when she gives birth to her beloved son, Spider, he is taken away by Children's Aid to Toronto. In time, she has a baby girl, Raven, whom she decides to leave in the care of her mother while she braves the bewildering strangeness of the big city to find her son and bring him home. 

Author: James Bartleman rose from humble circumstances in Port Carling, Ontario, to become Foreign Policy Advisor to the right PM Chrétien in 1994. After a distinguished career of more than thirty-five years in the Canadian foreign service, in 2002 he became the first Native Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. He is the author of the prize-winning memoir Out of Muskoka.

Publisher: Random House of Canada Ltd.

"James Bartleman honours the resiliency of the Indigenous spirit, despite the legacies of residential schools. There is truth and hope here. As Long as the Rivers Flow should be mandatory reading for everyone." — Jury, Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature 

Publisher:
Random House of Canada Ltd.