Jesse Thistle among winners of 2020 High Plains Book Awards for memoir From the Ashes

The High Plains Book Awards recognize excellent writing from the High Plains region in North America.
Jesse Thistle is the author of From the Ashes. (CBC)

Métis-Cree author Jesse Thistle won the 2020 High Plains Book Award for Indigenous writer for his memoir From the Ashes.

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.

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 was defended by George Canyon on Canada Reads 2020. According to BookNet Canada, it is the #1 bestselling Canadian print book of 2020 so far.

Good Relatives: Trauma, resilience, and revitalization with author Jesse Thistle

Here and Now

6 months agoVideo
Jesse Thistle's remarkable memoir, From the Ashes, about hope and resilience as a Métis-Cree man has inspired countless readers. This spring, as part of Canada Reads and before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thistle visited Labrador to speak with people about his experiences and his book. Good Relatives is a look at that trip, the people he met along the way, and what the way forward looks like for him. 22:14

Thistle was one of four Canadian winners.

Alberta journalist Sue Farrell Holler won the young adult category for Cold White Sun

Cold 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. The book was also a finalist for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Edmonton writer Katherine Koller won the short story category for her collection Winning Chance, which explores the role of chance in our lives.

Timothy Long and Julia Krueger won the art and photography category for Victor Cicansky: The Gardener's Universe/L'Univers d'un Jardinier. 

The Gardener's Universe was an exhibit of more than 100 of Regina artist Victor Cicansky's ceramic and bronze sculptures, which were inspired by his relationship to his backyard.

Long and Krueger curated the exhibit and edited the book.

The complete list of winners is:

  • Art & photography: Victor Cicansky: The Gardener's Universe/L'Univers d'un Jardinier, edited by Timothy Long and Julia Krueger
  • Children's book: Howl: A New Look at the Big Bad Wolf by Ted Rechlin
  • Creative nonfiction: Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston
  • Fiction: Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins
  • First book: Reckless Steps Toward Sanity: A Memoir by Judith Sara Gelt
  • Indigenous writer: From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle
  • Medicine & science: Six Hundred Generations: an Archaeological History of Montana by Carl M. Davis
  • Nonfiction: Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hamalainen
  • Poetry: Wilderness//Kingdom by Jory Mickelson
  • Short stories: Winning Chance by Katherine Koller
  • Woman writer: River People by Margaret Lukas
  • Young adult: Cold White Sun by Sue Farrell Holler
  • Big Sky Award: Voices of Yellowstone's Capstone, edited by Traute N. Parrie and Jesse A. Logan

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