Writer Tommy Starr and illustrator Collin Chartrand with "A Day with the Grandfathers" (Minegoziibe Anishinabe School/Frontier School Division)
While I was a young boy, I always had this deep feeling like something was missing inside me. I was puzzled due to this feeling. I kept asking myself, "What's wrong with me?" "Why can't I feel normal inside?" I felt as though I was a spear with no head.
—Tommy Starr, Writer
When Tommy Starr was growing up on Pine Creek First Nation, Manitoba, he
often felt that something was missing inside. In his words, he felt
like a "spear without a head." So his mother sent him to talk to his
grandfather who is an elder in the community.
Starr spent a day with his grandfather and experienced the sweat lodge for the first time. He also received his spirit name.
Starr turned that powerful experience into a story called A Day With My Grandfathers. And along with fellow student and illustrator Collin Chartrand, made the story into a children's book.
Starr turned the story into a children's book, along with fellow student and illustrator Collin Chartrand. And Starr submitted his story to the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge.
A Day with My Grandfathers has picked up the first prize in the youth category. When Starr got the news he couldn't believe it. "I was amazed. I didn't think that I was that good a writer."
Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden was on the jury that picked the winner. He says Starr's writing is "so simple in its presentation and yet so deep The whole story is just wonderful."
June 21 all the winners were honoured at a reception hosted by Joseph Boyden at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.
Listen to Tommy Starr and Joseph Boyden on Up to Speed: