CBC Literary Prizes

Identity Dreams by Sheena Robinson

Sheena Robinson has made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Identity Dreams.

2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Sheena Robinson has made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Identity Dreams. (John Gardiner)

Sheena Robinson has made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Identity Dreams.

About Sheena

Sheena is a member of the Heiltsuk Nation of Bella Bella, B.C., though she grew up in the city of Vancouver. She has moved around the province a lot, but always keeps the ocean close. She most recently moved to Nanaimo, where she graduated from Vancouver Island University with a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations studies and creative writing. She enjoys writing nonfiction and fiction for young adults and the occasional poem. Sheena is passionate about Indigenous and environmental issues in Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, exploring Vancouver Island and watching hockey.

Entry in five-ish words

"Ongoing journey of self-discovery."

The story's source of inspiration

"I've struggled with identity issues since I was a teenager. Being a light-skinned First Nations female in an urban setting has certainly come with unique experiences, both good and bad. I feel blessed to have many vivid dreams when I sleep, some of which have been visionary in ways. That's where I draw a lot of inspiration for my stories, both fiction and nonfiction."

First lines

This past Christmas Eve, at a table in the local brewery, my self-identity shifted. Again. My uncle, one of a handful of remaining relatives from my late dad's side of the family, reminded me that we're not Irish, we just have family there. We're actually English. 

Deep down I knew this, but had boxed it up and placed it in a dark corner in the attic where I was hoping to never have to look again. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being English. But back when I was Irish, or thought I was, I came from a people who had been oppressed throughout their history, had survived famines and disease, and remain a proud bunch of jolly folk, even though it pisses them off when people around the world appropriate their culture on a particular annual holiday. That probably doesn't sound so great to most people, but to me, it reminds me of the other side of my family.

About the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 18, 2019. The winner will be announced on Sept. 25, 2019.







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