Books

David A. Robertson and Michelle Good among writers longlisted for First Nation Communities Read Awards

More than 50 books are longlisted for the 2021/22 award, which celebrates the best of Indigenous literature in Canada.
Books by David A. Robertson (left) and Michelle Good are among the 53 titles longlisted for the 2021/22 First Nation Communities Read Awards. (Amber Green, Kent Wong)

David A. Robertson and Michelle Good are two of the 53 authors longlisted for the 2021/22 First Nation Communities Read Awards.

The awards celebrate the best of Indigenous literature in Canada. There are two award longlists featuring nominated YA/adult and children's titles.

The winning titles will be distributed in libraries across Ontario and programming will be developed to encourage reading and literacy.

Two of Robertson's books are nominated for the YA/adult category — Black Water and The Barren Grounds

Black Water is structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land. It chronicles the journey of a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lived experience with anxiety and to finally piece together his own blood memory.

The Barren Grounds is an epic middle grade fantasy series where Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations. Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, find the secret portal to another reality.

Robertson is a Swampy Cree author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. He has published more than 20 books across a variety of genres. He is the winner of the 2021 Freedom to Read Award.

Good is nominated for the YA/adult category for Five Little Indians.

Five Little Indians tells the story of five Indigenous children, barely out of childhood and released after years of detention in residential school, as they struggle to overcome trauma and find their way in a world that doesn't want them. The book won the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Joseph A. Dandurand is longlisted for both categories. Two of his books, I Will Be Corrupted and The East Side of It All, are nominated for the YA/adult category, and The Sasquatch, the Fire and the Cedar Baskets for the children's category.

Dandurand is an author and poet from the Kwantlen First Nation. He was the Vancouver Public Library's 2019 Indigenous storyteller in residence. The East Side of It All is one of the three Canadian finalists for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize.

When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt, is longlisted for the children's category. 

The book celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives.

Gray Smith is an author of mixed-heritage — Cree, Lakota and Scottish — who often writes and speaks about the resilience of Indigenous communities in Canada. 

Gray Smith was also the 2019/20 First Nation Communities Read YA/adult award winner for Tilly and the Crazy Eights.

Cindy Blackstock won the children's category last year for Spirit Bear: Fishing for Knowledge, Catching Dreams

The nominated titles for the YA/adult category are:

The nominated titles for the children's category are:

The winners will be announced ahead of First Nations Public Library Week, which is held in October.

The winners will be selected by a jury comprised of representatives from the Ontario First Nations public library community.

First Nations Communities Read is an annual program organized by Ontario Library Service and funded by the Government of Canada. 

Public libraries, communities and individuals across Canada can participate in the program.

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