Jesse Thistle among 12 Canadians nominated for High Plains Book Awards

The High Plains Book Awards recognize excellent writing from the High Plains region in North America in 12 categories, including fiction, nonfiction, photography and children's books.
Jesse Thistle is the author of From the Ashes. (CBC)

Métis-Cree author Jesse Thistle is among 12 Canadians nominated for the High Plains Book Awards.

Founded in 2006, the High Plains Book Awards recognize excellent writing from the High Plains region in North America. The award program recognizes books in 12 categories, including fiction, nonfiction, photography and children's books.

The High Plains are comprised of the Canadian provinces Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and the United States of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Thistle is nominated in the category for Indigenous writer, alongside Wayne Arthurson and KC Adams, for his memoir From the Ashes.

In From the Ashes, Thistle combines poetry and memoir to chronicle his intimate journey of overcoming addiction and homelessness to become a decorated academic.

From the Ashes will be defended by George Canyon on Canada Reads 2020.

Arthurson is nominated for his mystery novel The Red Chesterfield.

In The Red Chesterfield, a city bylaw officer finds a chesterfield in a ditch, along with a severed foot. The protagonist gets caught up in the investigation — and turns out to be more interested in what happens to the furniture than the origin of the missing body part.

Novelist Arthurson is a writer of Cree and French Canadian descent. He is the author of several novels, including Blood Red Summer and The Traitors of Camp 133.

Photographer Adams is nominated for her photography collection Perception. Perception is a portrait series that examined the barefaced stereotypes routinely directed at Canada's Indigenous Peoples. Each of her subjects is cast in two lights: one a sombre portrait featuring a stereotype, and the other their radiant reality. 

Perception photo exhibit takes on aboriginal stereotypes

CBC News: Winnipeg at 6:00

6 years ago
A portrait exhibit by Winnipeg artist K.C. Adams launched on Thursday and is already starting important conversations about racism in a city that recently dubbed "Canada's most racist city" by Maclean's magazine. 1:14

Canadians also swept the young adult category, with Sue Farrell Holler, Miriam Körner and Colleen Nelson being named the three finalists.

Alberta journalist Holler was nominated for the YA novel Cold White SunCold White Sun is the story of a young Ethiopian boy named Tesfaye whose family sends him away when violence breaks out and he must make a new home in Canada, alone.

YA writer Körner lives in northern Saskatchewan and was nominated for Qaqavii. The YA novel is about a 15-year old girl who befriends Barnabas, a young Inuk, and learns about the wild world of dog sledding. 

Winnipeg YA novelist Nelson was nominated for SpinSpin is a YA novel about a teenage girl who wants to be a DJ and whose family owns a record shop. 

Two Canadians are finalists in the poetry category: Shirley Camia for her collection Mercy and Catherine Hunter for her collection St. Boniface Elegies.

Alberta photographer Lisa Christensen is nominated in the art and photography category for her photography collection Truth and Beauty in the Canadian Rockies.

Former Quirks & Quarks host and science journalist Jay Ingram is nominated in the medicine & science category for his book The Science of Why, Vol 4.

Edmonton writer Katherine Koller is nominated in the short story category for her collection Winning Chance.

Finally, Edmonton poet Su Croll in the women writer category for her collection Cold Metal Stairs.

You can see the complete list of finalists below.

The winners will be announced at the High Plains BookFest, which is taking place Oct. 10-12, 2020, in Billings, Mont.

Art & Photography:

  • The Arapaho Way: Continuity and Change on the Wind River Reservation by Sara Wiles
  • Truth and Beauty in the Canadian Rockies by Lisa Christensen
  • Victor Cicansky: The Gardener's Universe / L'univers d'un jardinier edited by Timothy Long & Julia Krueger

Children's book:

  • Forever Neverland by Susan Adrian
  • Howl: A New Look at the Big Bad Wolf by Ted Rechlin
  • Major: A Soldier Dog by Trevor Jones, illustrated by Ming Hai

Creative nonfiction:

  • Deep Creek by Pam Houston
  • Encounters in Yellowstone by M. Mark Miller
  • Essential Yellowstone by Michael J. Yochim


  • Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins
  • The Healer's Daughter by Charlotte Hinger
  • The Line Between by Tosca Lee

First book:

  • The Cheyenne Story by Gerry Robinson
  • Earth to Charlie by Justin Olson
  • Reckless Steps Toward Sanity by Judith Sara Gelt

Indigenous writer:

Medicine & science:

  • Birds, Bones, and Beetles by Charles H. Warner
  • The Science of Why, Vol 4 by Jay Ingram
  • Six Hundred Generations by Carl M. Davis


  • Lakota America by Pekka Hamalainen
  • One Size Fits None by Stephanie Anderson
  • Voices of Yellowstone's Capstone edited by Traute N. Parrie & Jesse A. Logan


Short stories:

  • Not a Thing to Comfort You by Emily Wortman-Wunder
  • This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love. by Jennifer Wortman
  • Winning Chance by Katherine Koller

Woman writer:

  • Cold Metal Stairs by Su Croll
  • Nighthawk Rising by Diana Allen Kouris
  • River People by Margaret Lukas

Young adult:


  • This has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Miriam Körner's name and the details of her book.
    Jul 03, 2020 8:33 AM ET

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