CODE announces the nine titles eligible for the 2018 CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature

Ottawa, August 15, 2018

In June 2018, the National Reading Campaign adjudicated the 9 young adult submissions to the 2018 CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature. Lead by Nancy Cooper, the peer assessment committee consisted of Adina Duffy, Wilfred Burton and Michelle Corneau. This year Eden Gepner Bourgeois, a 14-year old Cree-Metis “who loves reading”, joined the adjudication panel as the first Burt Award young adult reader. Eden was a great addition to the panel and inspired the jury members with his perspective and thoughtful insights into each book that was submitted.

The peer committee members were impressed by the quality of submissions and had this to say, “The submissions this year were wonderful and exciting to read. There are so many quality books coming out for young adults that it was hard to choose the top three. We want to acknowledge the tremendous creative effort it takes to write, edit and publish all of these books, and we want to thank everyone for their contribution to indigenous literature.”  

The nine titles that were considered in 2018 (in alphabetic order):

  • Chief Lightning Bolt by Daniel N. Paul (Fernwood Press)
  • Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones (Annick Press)
  • The Journey Forward: Two Novellas on Reconciliation by Richard Van Camp and Monique Gray Smith (McKeller and Martin)
  • Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (Dancing Cat/Cormorant)
  • Rez Rebel by Melanie Florence (Lorimer)
  • Song of Batoche by Maia Caron  (Ronsdale Press)
  • Strangers: The Reckoner Trilogy Book 1 by David A. Robertson (HighWater Press)
  • The Tree by the Woodpile by Raymond Yakeleya (Durvile Publications)
  • Why the Monster by Sean and Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley (Inhabit Media)

CODE will announce the three shortlisted titles during the 2018 Turtle Island Reads launch event at McGill University, Montreal on September 19, 2018 during the on-campus Indigenous Awareness Week.

CODE is thrilled to be working with Turtle Island Reads, which is made up of 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 and LEARN.

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. As CODE shares this purpose, CODE is honoured to have the CODE Burt Award young adult literature books considered for the program. 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. “The Turtle Island Reads book launch is always a fun and exciting event. This year, this lively event will feature our three book advocates, as well as celebrity authors, Indigenous artists and filmmakers, teachers and youth, and members of McGill's wider community in Montreal and the Mohawk territory.” – Lori Beavis, co-ordinator of Turtle Island Reads, McGill University


About CODE and the CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature

The CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature is a Canadian literary award and readership initiative that recognizes excellence in Indigenous-authored literature for young adults (ages 12-18). The objective of the prize is to champion literacy, build language skills and foster the love and habit of reading by ensuring that young people across Canada have access to high quality, culturally-relevant and engaging reading materials. The award program is made possible by the generous support of Canada’s Literary Prizes Foundation and the legacy of William “Bill” Burt.

From the shortlisted titles, one will be named the winner, and two awarded the honour book. 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!

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, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canada Council for the Arts, GoodMinds, The National Reading Campaign and Frontier College.

The CODE Burt Literary Award is a global readership initiative and is also currently running in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and the Caribbean.

For further details on the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Young Adult Literature


For more information, please contact:

Lynn O’Rourke
CODE Program Manager, Literary Awards & Publishing
t: 613 232 3569 x 244

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
News Type: 
Burt Award News
Press Release