The CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and, Métis Young Adult Literature — 2019-2020 Winning Titles

Winner: Indigenous Language Category
Inconvenient Skin
by Shane L. Koyczan
Translation into Cree by Soloman Ratt
Published by Theytus Books
Joseph M. Sanchez (Illustrations),
Jim Logan (Illustrations),
Kent Monkman (Contributor),
Nadya Kwandibens (Photographs)

Inconvenient Skin is a collection of poetry written in English and translated into Cree. The poems aim to unpack the challenges of the dark side of Canada’s history and to clean the wounds so the nation can finally heal. Powerful and thought-provoking, this collection will draw you in and make you reconsider Canada’s colonial legacy. The cover features the art of Kent Monkman, and the interior features work by Joseph Sanchez, a member of the Indian Group of Seven. 

The author, Shane Koyczan is a writer, poet, and spoken word artist. He has performed around the globe at universities and at music and literary festivals. His writing and performance are vital, witty, and sincere: he reaches the hearts of his audiences with his powerful verses and has brought the Canadian spoken word movement to the international stage. Koyczan was born in Yellowknife, NWT, and he grew up in Penticton, British Columbia where is currently lives and works.  He has published several books, including poetry collection Visiting Hours, Stickboy, a novel in verse, Our Deathbeds will be Thirsty, To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful, A Bruise on Light and Visiting Hours.

The translator, Soloman Ratt was born on the banks of the Churchill River in a trapper’s cabin just north of Stanley Mission, SK. He went to the Prince Albert Indian Residential School and graduated from Riverside Collegiate in Prince Albert. He attended the University of Regina and graduated with a BA in English and a BA in Linguistics as well as a MA in English. He has been teaching Cree language and Cree literature at First Nations University in Regina since 1986. He teaches all levels of Cree and Cree literature. Ratt is also a writer and a poet, including Woods Cree Stories, and Beginning Cree written as an introduction for Cree language learners both published by University of Regina Press.

Winner: English Language Category:
Short Stories
By Richard Van Camp
Published by Douglas & McIntyre

Award acceptance quote from Richard Van Camp “I wanted to thank my publisher, Anna Comfort O’Keeffe, and I wanted to thank my editors, Barbara Pulling and Cheryl Cohen. Thank you!!

I would like to share with you what this award means to me.

To know that 2,500 copies of our book are being given away for free, to know that almost 300 copies are being sent to my hometown of Fort Smith, NWT, to know that all of our hard work and editing–and let’s be honest: it is our editors who make us the best writers we can ever dream to be–to know that we have been honoured in such a good way, a profound way, astonishes and inspires me.

I am so grateful to all of you for this award and I share this award with you and with my family, my community, and I have always felt that when we publish something, it becomes an arrow of fire and hope and inspiration that can land anywhere and anytime. To know that there are 2,500 new arrows of fire, light and hope soaring into communities that we’ll never visit, inspiring lives that we will hopefully hear about years from now, to reach new readers and writers, well, this is the ultimate accomplishment and I thank you all for helping me.”  Masi Cho

Master Tłı̨chǫ storyteller and bestselling author Richard Van Camp captures the shifting and magical nature of the North in this stunning collection of short stories.

The characters of Moccasin Square Gardens inhabit Denendeh, the land of the people north of the sixtieth parallel. These stories are filled with in-laws, outlaws and common-laws. Get ready for illegal wrestling moves (“The Camel Clutch”), pinky promises, a doctored casino, extraterrestrials or “Sky People,” love, lust and prayers for peace.

While this is Van Camp’s most hilarious short story collection, it’s also haunted by the lurking presence of the Wheetago, human-devouring monsters of legend that have returned due to global warming and the greed of humanity. The stories in Moccasin Square Gardens show that medicine power always comes with a price. Drawing from oral history techniques to perfectly capture the character and texture of everyday small-town life, the collection of stories functions as a meeting place for an assortment of characters, from shamans and time-travelling goddess warriors to pop-culture-obsessed pencil pushers, to con artists, archivists and men who just need to grow up, all seeking some form of connection.

Richard Van Camp is an internationally renowned storyteller and best-selling author. He has written and published more than twenty books in twenty years of writing, from baby board books to young adult fiction, to novellas and novels. He was born in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, and is a member of the Tłı̨chǫ Dene Nation. He acted as a cultural consultant for CBC Television’s North of 60. A graduate of the En’owkin School of Writing in Penticton, he completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing at the University of Victoria and completed his Master’s of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Richard was awarded Storyteller of the Year for both Canada and the US by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

Honour Book:
The Case of Windy Lake
By Michael Hutchinson
Published by Second Story Press

The Case of Windy Lake Book 1 in The Mighty Muskrats Mystery Series 

The Mighty Muskrats won’t let a mystery go unsolved!

Sam, Otter, Atim, and Chickadee are four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting, and exploring together, the cousins find that each new adventure adds to their reputation. 

When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns, and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead. From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case! 

The Case of Windy Lake was the co-winner in Second Story Press’ 2018 Indigenous Writing Contest!

Michael Hutchinson is a citizen of the Misipawistik Cree Nation in the Treaty 5 territory, north of Winnipeg. He has worked as the Director of Communications for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and as a project manager for the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, where he helped create the “We are all treaty people” campaign. Over seven years ago, he jumped at the chance to make mini-documentaries for the first season of APTN Investigates. Michael then became host of APTN National News and produced APTN’s sit-down interview show, Face to Face, and APTN’s version of Politically Incorrect, The Laughing Drum. Michael has worked in communications for the Assembly of First Nations and the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, an advocacy organization for First Nations in northern Manitoba. He currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His greatest accomplishments are his two lovely daughters.