2017 CODE’s Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature Announced

Thousands of copies of the three winning titles will be distributed to youth through this unique literary award’s book purchase and distribution program.

Burt Award for First Nations sealEdmonton, November 23, 2017 — The 2017 winners of this unique literary award and literacy initiative were announced at the 5th Annual Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature Ceremony on Thursday, November 23, 2017. Established by CODE—a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for over 55 years—with the generous support of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the award recognizes excellent, engaging, and culturally-relevant books in English for youth. These books are written, illustrated, and/or translated by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis creators. A jury composed of Indigenous Canadian writers and educators administered by the Canada Council for the Arts selected the winning titles.

This year’s award ceremony was held at the amiskwaciy Academy in Edmonton, Alberta. CBC’s Shelagh Rogers and Dr. Allen Benson, CEO Native Counselling Service, co-hosted the event. Principle Fred Hines, Elders Francis Wiskeyjack, Janette Lean, Leith Campbell, and three senior students also made engaging and heartfelt presentations. Special guests: Ian Campeau, CODE’s #ReadwithMe champion; and Patti LaBoucane-Benson, Monique Gray-Smith, and Kelly Mellings – all previous winners of the Burt Award – also participated in the ceremony.

Sarah McLaughlin from House of Anansi Press represented Katherena Vermette and received the winning prize of $12,000 for The Break (published by House of Anansi Press).

The Mask That Sang written by Susan Currie (published by Second Story Press) and Those Who Run in the Sky written by Aviaq Johnston and illustrated by Toma Feizo Gas (published by Inhabit Media) both received the honour book prizes of $2,000.00 each. The authors attended the ceremony and hosted creative writing workshops for senior students.

In addition, publishers of the winning and honour book titles are granted a guaranteed purchase of a minimum of 2,500 copies, which ensures that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth across Canada have access to the books through their schools, libraries, Friendship Centres, and other organizations engaging indigenous youth in education. More than 800 locations across the country receive award-winning books.

“CODE is delighted to once again recognize works of excellence by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis creators,” said CODE Executive Director, Scott Walter. “Katherena Vemette’s beautifully and powerfully written book captures the love and struggles between family members in a modern Indigenous community, Susan Currie weaves themes of class, race, culture, family and friendship into an outstanding story, and Aviaq Johnston takes us on a young Inuit hero’s journey to spiritual and physical strength as he makes his way through the Arctic wilderness. These are rich, compelling stories that CODE is proud to see honoured, but even more satisfying is the knowledge that through our guaranteed purchase they will be made all the more accessible to Indigenous youth, right across the nation.”

The award is the result of a close collaboration between CODE and the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, Frontier College, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canada Council for the Arts, and GoodMinds.

CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative that is also active in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Caribbean.


For more information, please contact:
Lynn O’Rourke
Program Manager, Literary Awards & Publishing

(t) 613.232.3569 ext 244, (e) lorourke@code.ngo

Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Type: 
Burt Award News
In the News
Press Release