Shelagh Rogers has hosted the awards ceremony for CODE's Burt Award for First Nations Métis and Inuit Literature five years in a row. To mark International Volunteer Day on December 5th, we asked Shelagh what inspires her to volunteer for CODE year after year:
"The Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Metis literature is an award like no other on the literary landscape of Canada. Not only are Indigenous authors honoured, so are young Indigenous readers. The books are chosen with an eye to young readers being able to recognize themselves in the stories.
The generous founder of the award, William Burt, started reading the Hardy Boys books as a ten year old. He identified with the two teenaged boys who solved mysteries. He identified with them. He saw himself in them. He could join them as they worked on their cases. Mr. Burt wanted to ensure that young Indigenous readers could have that same kind of experience: seeing yourself in a story. Imagining what is possible. Understanding a life that is not your own.
I am honoured to be involved with The Burt Awards because of this generous premise. It all comes down to a sense of belonging. If you share a story with me, a bit of you stays with me and vice versa. Because when we share a story with someone, a part of us belongs to another. I love the power that stories have.
Also, I am very excited to support Indigenous writers in Canada. What a fertile time this is! The Burt Awards also celebrate the authors and do so much to get them out into communities and schools so that the readers can rub elbows with them and ask them questions face to face. What a great gift.
It is a pleasure to be affiliated with these awards. They help to create community and to foster a lifelong love of reading and stories. And it’s so much fun, fun of the most profound kind. It is always deeply moving and I thank Mr. Burt for his vision and his generosity."