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First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature

The 2018 Shortlisted Titles for the CODE Burt Award for First Nations

CODE proudly announced the three shortlisted titles for the 2018 CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature during the 2018 Turtle Island Reads launch event at McGill University, Montreal on September 19, 2018 during the on-campus Indigenous Awareness Week.

The three titles selected from the nine titles on the longlist in alphabetic order are:

  • Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones (published by Annick Press)
  • The Journey Forward: Two Novellas on Reconciliation by Richard Van Camp (When We Play Our Drums, They Sing!) and Monique Gray Smith (Lucy & Lola).  (McKeller and Martin)
  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (published by Dancing Cat/Cormorant)

From these shortlisted titles, one will be named the winner, and two awarded the honour book prizes during the CODE Burt Award Ceremony. This year the award event will take place in partnership with the Kitigan Zibi School in the community of Kitigan Zibi, Quebec at the end of November.

The award is a cash prize (the winner receives $10,000, and each of the honour books receives $2,000.00). Publishers of the winning titles are also awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies of each title. These books are then distributed for free to schools, libraries, community centres, and friendships centres across Canada. This guaranteed purchase, combined with a book distribution program, is what makes this award program unique. It ensures that great books make it into the hands of young readers who need them the most, with new titles coming out every year!

Adam Garnet Jones  is Cree/Métis/ Danish who lives in Toronto, Canada. He an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His very first dramatic feature-length film was “Fire Song”, and this book is an adaptation of that film. Fire Song tells the story of Shane, a young man still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. The person he most wants to turn to for comfort is his friend David but it’s difficult when they have to keep their relationship hidden from everyone on the rez. This is a powerful story about love grief, and moving on. Fire Song deftly navigates the struggles of two indigenous gay teenagers trying to find their place in the world.

The Journey Forward is a unique flip-book with two Novellas: one written by Richard Van Camp, the other written by Monique Gray Smith. The theme of the novellas is Reconciliation. This unique format gives readers, educators, parents, caregivers the chance to share and experience two points-of-view on residential schools and reconciliation in one compelling package.

Lucy & Lola by Monique Gray Smith is the story of two, 11-year-old twins who spend the summer with their grandmother while their mother studies for the bar exam. During their time with Kookum, the girls begin to learn about her experiences in being sent — and having to send their mother — to Residential school. Ultimately, they discover what it means to be intergenerational survivors.

  • Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent and is the proud Mom of twelve year old twins. She is an award winning author, international speaker and sought after consultant. Her career has focused on fostering paradigm shifts that emphasize the strength and resiliency of the First Peoples in Canada. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience. Monique has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 23 years.
  • The second novella in the book is titled When We Play Our Drums, They Sing! by Richard Van Camp is the story of 12-year-old Dene Cho, who is angry that his people are losing their language, traditions and ways of being. Elder Snowbird is there to answer some of Dene Cho's questions and to share their history including the impact Residential schools continue to have on their people. It is through this conversation with Snowbird that Dene Cho begins to find himself and begins to realize that understanding the past can ultimately change the future.

Richard Van Camp is a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, NWT, Canada from Fort Smith, NWT. He is a graduate of the En'owkin International School of Writing, the University of Victoria's Creative Writing BFA Program, and the Master's Degree in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. He is an internationally renowned storyteller and best-selling author. His novel, The Lesser Blessed, is now a movie with First Generation Films and premiered in September of 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. He is the author of four collections of short stories, Angel Wing Splash Pattern, The Moon of Letting Go, Godless but Loyal to Heaven and Night Moves, as well as two children’s books with Cree artist, George Littlechild: A Man Called Raven and What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?

The Marrow Thieves. In this dystopian science fiction novel, humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden—but what they don't know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. Her first book, Red Rooms, was published in 2007, and her novel The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy was released in 2013. In 2014, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and became the first Aboriginal Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library. Her book A Gentle Habit was published in August 2016. The Marrow Thieves has won the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Kirkus Prize; it is a finalist for the White Pine Award, was named to the Globe and Mail Top 100 and was selected for CBC’s Canada Reads.

Turtle Island Reads

CODE is thrilled to be working with Turtle Island Reads this year. TIR is a partnership that includes CBC Montreal, The Quebec Writers Federation, McGill University Faculty of Education and the Provosts Office for Indigenous Education, SEDE, members of the Kahnawake Mohawk Community, CURIO, LEARN and CODE.

TIR is a version of “Canada Reads” where Indigenous celebrities champion books to select the best indigenous YA book of the year. Three schools in Quebec will also be selected to receive copies of each of the books and along with advocates, will select the “best book” during the live public event in June 2019. Turtle Island Reads (TIR) puts a spotlight on Indigenous writing by connecting authors and their writing with students, and to spark conversation about Indigenous storytelling and Indigenous-settler relationship in classrooms throughout Quebec by drawing out themes from the books.  

More information about Turtle Island Reads can be found here: https://www.mcgill.ca/education/turtle-island-reads-2018

During the launch event on September 19, Turtle Island Reads announced the three book advocates along with the books they will be defending, and we are honoured to have two CODE Burt Award books considered for the program this year.

Dayna Danger will be advocating for (Will I See)

Dayna Danger is a 2Spirit/Queer, Metis/Saulteaux/Polish visual artist raised in Winnipeg, MB. Using photography, sculpture, performance and video, Dayna Danger‘s practice questions the line between empowerment and objectification by claiming space with her larger than life scale work.

May I See is a graphic novel based on the story by Iskwé and Erin Leslie. May, is a young teenage girl who traverses the city streets, finding keepsakes in different places along her journey. When May and her kookum make these keepsakes into a necklace, it opens a world of danger and fantasy. While May fights against a terrible reality, she learns that there is strength in the spirit of those who have passed. But will that strength be able to save her? A story of tragedy and beauty, Will I See? illuminates the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Tracey Deer will be advocating for the book (The Marrow Thieves)

Tracey Deer, the filmmaker behind the popular TV show Mohawk Girls She is a Mohawk film director and newspaper publisher. Deer has written and directed several award-winning projects for the Aboriginal-run film and television production company, Rezolution Pictures, as well as her own independent short work.

The Marrow Thieves. Is a dystopian science fiction novel in which humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. For now, survival means staying hidden—but what they don't know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves

Lucy Tulugarjuk will be advocating for (Those Who Run with the Sky)

Lucy Tulugarjuk is an Inuit Canadian actress and throat singer. She is from Igloolik, Nunavut and is known for starring in the 2001 film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, for which she won the award for Best Actress at the American Indian Film Festival. In 2015, she acted in the film Maliglutit.

Those Who Run in the Sky received a 2017 CODE Burt Award Honour Book prize. This is a coming-of-age story that follows named Pitu, a young shaman who finds himself lost in the world of the spirits.

After a strange and violent blizzard leaves Pitu stranded on the sea ice, without his dog team or any weapons to defend himself, he soon realizes that he is no longer in the word that he once knew. The storm has carried him into the world of the spirits, a world populated with terrifying creatures. After stumbling upon a fellow shaman who has been trapped in the spirit world for many years, Pitu must master all of his shamanic powers to make his way back to the world of the living, to his family, and to the girl that he loves.

 

About the CODE Burt Award

The CODE Burt Award is a literary award and readership initiative that recognizes excellent, engaging, and culturally relevant books in English for young adults (aged 12 through 18). The award program was established by CODE, a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for 59 years along with the generous support of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation.

Here in Canada, the CODE Burt Award recognizes excellence in young adult books written, illustrated, and/or translated by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis creators. The Canadian program was developed in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami the Métis National Council, the National Association of Friendship Centres, Frontier College, GoodMinds, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canada Council, and our newest partner, the National Reading Campaign

As part of this program, CODE purchases up to 2,500 copies of each winning title and sends sets of these acclaimed books to schools, libraries, community centres, and Friendship Centres across the country. We want to thank you for your time and effort in ensuring these books make into the hands of young adult readers. Several publishers have created teacher resource guides to help you along the way, and we encourage you to incorporate these into reading programs, book clubs, library reading programs, and literacy programs.

Complete Burt Award background and detailed information pdf

For more information contact:
Lynn O’Rourke
Program Manager, Literary Awards & Publishing
lorourke@code.ngo
613-232-3569 or 1-800-661-2633 x 244

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