Katherena Vermette's The Break among finalists for 2017 Burt Award

The $12,000 prize annually recognizes literature by First Nations, Inuit and Métis creators.
The 2017 Burt Award shortlist includes The Break by Katherena Vermette, The Mask That Sang by Susan Currie and Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston. (Burt Award)

Katherena Vermette's debut novel The Break has garnered yet another accolade: the book is one of three nominated for the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature.

Earlier this year, the The Break took home the First Novel Award and won three prizes at the Manitoba Book Awards.

The Burt Award is an annual $12,000 prize that recognizes literature by First Nations, Inuit and Métis creators.

Past winning titles include The Outside Circlea graphic novel by Patti LaBoucane-Benson and Kelly Mellings, and Skraelingsa young adult novel by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley.

The 2017 Burt Award shortlist also includes The Mask That Sang by Susan Currie and Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston. You can learn more about all of the finalists below.

The winner of the grand prize will be announced on Nov. 23, 2017 in Edmonton, Alta., at an event hosted by novelist and artist Aaron Paquette and Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC Radio's The Next Chapter.

Over 2,000 copies of the winning book will be purchased and distributed to school libraries, Friendship Centres and other organizations across Canada.

The two books that aren't selected will be named honour books and will each receive $2,000.  

The Break by Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette is the author of the novel The Break. (CBC)

What it's about: A young Indigenous girl is violently attacked in a small Winnipeg neighbourhood. Voices from the traumatized community — a witness to the crime, the victim's family members, a police officer and a neighbourhood girl — take turns narrating the aftermath as past pains are unearthed by the event and justice is sought.

From the judges: "Katherena Vemette's beautifully and powerfully written book captures the love and struggles between family members in a modern Indigenous community."

The Mask That Sang by Susan Currie

The Mask That Sang, winner of the Second Story Press Aboriginal Writing Contest, is about a young girl waking up to her Cayuga heritage. (Second Story Press/Twitter)

What it's about: The only family Cass, a young girl, has ever known is her mother. But when a grandmother she never met dies and her mother inherits a house she refuses to live in, Cass' curiosity about her extended family is piqued. Her questions lead her to an unusual mask, which seems to have answers about her heritage.

From the judges: "Susan Currie weaves themes of class, race, culture, family and friendship into an outstanding story."

Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston

Aviaq Johnston is an Igloolik, Nunavut-based author. Her books include Those Who Run in the Sky and What's My Superpower? (Inhabit Media)

What it's about: After a terrible blizzard, a young shaman named Pitu finds himself transported to the world of spirits without his dog team or any weapons. While dodging deadly creatures, Pitu runs into a powerful shaman who is also trapped in the spirit world. Pitu works to master his shamanic powers in order to find a way home.

From the judges: "Aviaq Johnston takes us on a young Inuit hero's journey to spiritual and physical strength as he makes his way through the Arctic wilderness."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.