Vancouver, BC, October 22, 2015 — Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley have won the 2015 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. The pair was honoured at a ceremony held at UBC’s First Nations House of Learning for their novel Skraelings along with second and third place winners, Frank Christopher Busch for his book Grey Eyes, and Aaron Paquette for Lightfinder.
The Burt Award celebrates the best in indigenous authorship benefitting First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth. It was created and is managed by CODE, a Canadian non-profit organization promoting literacy and education for over 55 years. The 2015 ceremony was hosted in partnership with the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Education and Indigenous Education Institute of Canada.
The day’s events were emceed by veteran broadcast journalist Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC’s The Next Chapter, and last year’s first prize winner, author of Tilly, Monique Gray Smith. Events included words from Musqueam Elder Larry Grant and performances by Musqueam hip-hop artist Christie Lee Charles. The ceremony was attended by more than two hundred students, from high schools in Vancouver and surrounding First Nations communities. UBC faculty, researchers and administration, as well as student-teachers and representatives from local school boards, were also in attendance.
The ceremony and related presentations are paired with an author’s tour of First Nations communities, with events in urban and remote areas, engaging young people in Q&A sessions and writing workshops. These activities are generously sponsored by CN.
In addressing the crowd, Jacques Bérubé, Vice-Chair of CODE’s board of directors, remarked on CODE’s approach: “We have long recognized that a very important characteristic of engaging young readers is to provide them with stories that reflect their own culture, their own stories. Stories that have meaning for them. This is what inspired us to introduce the Burt Award for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Literature.”
Selected by a jury of Canadian writers administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, Mr. and Ms. Qitsualik-Tinsley receive the First Prize of $12,000. Mr. Busch and Mr. Paquette, have won a Second Prize of $8,000 and a Third Prize of $5,000, respectively. In addition, publishers of these titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of a minimum of 2,500 copies, which will ensure that First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth across Canada will have access to the books through their schools, libraries, and Friendship Centres.
In a recorded acceptance speech, Ms.Qitsualik-Tinsley expressed gratitude on behalf of both winning authors and shared: “Skraelings is a book about respect, the theme of respecting differences between peoples and individuals. In our belief, it is only by finding the positive side of such differences that humanity can be healthy.”
2015 Winning Titles
The Burt Award was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for over 55 years – in collaboration and with the generous support of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. TheBurt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature aims to provide engaging and culturally-relevant books for young people across Canada by recognizing excellence in English-language literary works for Young Adults by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors.
The Award is the result of a close collaboration with 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 and Frontier College.
CODE’s Burt Award is a global readership initiative and is also established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and the Caribbean.
For further details on the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, please visit code.ngo/burt-award-canada
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CODE thanks CN and UBC for their support of this event.