CBC Literary Prizes

"The Archaeologist's Last Visit" by Machenka Eriksen

Machenka Eriksen has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "The Archaeologist's Last Visit."

2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist

Machenka Eriksen is drawn to creative nonfiction for its extraordinary truth-telling capacity. (Machenka Eriksen)

Machenka Eriksen has made the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for "The Archaeologist's Last Visit."

About Machenka

Machenka Eriksen is a daughter, sister, mother and grandmother. She is also a graduate student at the University of Victoria. She was born and raised on Coast Salish and North Straits Salish territories and has been writing since she received her first journal at the age of seven. She is especially drawn to creative nonfiction for its extraordinary truth-telling capacity. She is happiest in nature and most at peace when swimming in the ocean.

Entry in five-ish words

Charred stones, old yellowed bones.

The story's source of inspiration

"This story was inspired by memories of growing up on the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve (located on the southwest coast of B.C., just above the Canada-U.S. border). In particular, by a pivotal moment in which I understood that my relationship with the community, lands and waters I called home was inherently different than that of my friends. This understanding would come to shape the rest of my life."

First lines

"Josh and I are sitting on a boulder near the train tracks, having a smoke, when it happens. It happened before, but this is the first time I've seen it. An archaeologist comes to the rez. He's carrying this big gray duffle bag filled with orange flagging, and some wooden sticks. The sticks are all the same size, blunt at one end and pointed at the other. He takes a mallet out of his bag, pounds the sticks in the ground and ties up the flagging in demarcated places just up from the beach, behind the tracks. It's not an obvious place. You have to look around to find it."

About the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize

The winner of the 2017 CBC Nonfiction Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have an opportunity to attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have their story published on CBC Books and in Air Canada enRoute magazine. Four finalists will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books

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