Le Trajet / The Way There by Sheila Brooke
2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist
Sheila Brooke has made the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Le Trajet / The Way There.
The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 24. The winner will be announced on Oct. 1.
Based from a small off-grid Gulf Island cabin, Sheila spends her summers working as a wildfire lookout observer in Canada's boreal forest and her winters working as a relief lighthouse keeper for the Canadian Coast Guard along B.C.'s beautiful coastlines. She punctuates the two jobs with treasured intervals of time spent with her daughter's family on the east coast, travelling and crewing sailboats. Sheila is working on a book of essays.
Entry in five-ish words
"Navigating a life, in hindsight."
The story's source of inspiration
"Working in isolated, remote locations that are known in formal terms as 'aids to navigation' (lighthouses)."
Sometimes, my flight is taking me out to work with friends, sometimes to work with strangers.
As we circle to land, I try to decipher who will be who among the small group of people waiting on the landing pad. Climbing out of the helicopter, I duck low and move aside, skinning off my survival suit. They wrestle into theirs. We switch over our ear protectors, grab my groceries from the back, load their travel bags in. The outgoing lightkeepers clamber aboard, I back away. The machine fires up, blades whirling faster and faster till they're off; I'm on.
Relief lighthouse keeping? I'm asked doubtfully. Yes; though most of the world's lighthouses have by now been automated, British Columbia's west coast has more than 20 that are still staffed. For almost two decades, helping to provide that staff with time off has been my winter job.
The winner of the 2020 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 the 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.