Books

Shane Koyczan, Richard Van Camp and Michael Hutchinson win CODE Burt Awards for Indigenous YA literature

The $6,000 awards recognize the best YA book by a First Nations, Inuit or Métis author. 

The $6,000 awards recognize the best YA book by a First Nations, Inuit or Métis author

Shane Koyczan, Richard Van Camp and Michael Hutchinson are the winners of the 2020 CODE Burt Awards for Indigenous young adult literature. (Submitted by CODE, Laughing Dog Photography, @Mike_Hutchins0n/Twitter.com)

Shane Koyczan, Richard Van Camp and Michael Hutchinson are the winners of the CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature.

The $6,000 awards recognize the best YA book by a First Nations, Inuit or Métis author. 

Shane Koyzcan won the  Indigenous-language category for the poetry book  Inconvenient Skin / nayêhtâwan wasakay.

Inconvenient Skin is a book of poetry that explores Canada's colonial legacy. It was translated into Cree by Solomon Ratt and features art by Kent Monkman and Joseph Sanchez, a member of the Indian Group of Seven.

Koyczan is a spoken word artist who performed at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and has written a libretto for the Vancouver Opera. Ratt is a Cree language educator and teacher.

The other finalists in the Indigenous langauge category were Van Camp's graphic novel Three Feathers, illustrated by K. Mateus, and Aviaq Johnston's YA novel Those Who Run the Sky.

2020 is the first year the Indigenous language prize was awarded.

The organization said this new prize is a direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call for the "preservation, revitalization of Aboriginal languages," when the prize was announced in June 2019.

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Van Camp won the English-language category for Moccasin Square Gardens.

Moccasin Square Gardens is a collection of humorous short fiction set in Denendeh, the land of the people north of the 60th parallel. Richard Van Camp's stories involve extraterrestrials, illegal wrestling moves and the legendary Wheetago, human-eating monsters who have come to punish the greed of humanity.

Van Camp is a Tlicho Dene writer from Fort Smith, N.W.T. who has written over 20 books across multiple genres. His other books include the novel The Lesser Blessed, the graphic novel A Blanket of Butterflies and the picture book Little You.

Hutchinson's middle-grade book The Case of Windy Lake was named an Honour book in the English language category.

In The Case of Windy Lake, cousins Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are known as the Mighty Muskrats of Windy Lake First Nation. When an archaeologist goes missing, they investigate his disappearance amidst increasingly heated environmental protests. It is the first book in the Mighty Muskrats series.

Hutchinson is a member of Misipawistik Cree Nation. The Mighty Muskrats series also includes the titles The Case of the Burgled Bungle and The Case of the Missing Auntie.

The other finalist in the English-language category was the YA novel Those Who Dwell Below  by Aviaq Johnston.

"This was an exciting mix of stories 'from the past' that are still relevant for today's reader along with more contemporary stories. We were wowed by the extraordinary writing, engaging content, and powerful life lessons," the jury said in a press statement.

CODE, the nonprofit organization that administers the prize, will be purchasing 2,500 copies of the winning books and distributing them for free to schools and libraries across the country.

The prize has been awarded since 2013.

Last year's winner was The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline.

Other past winners include Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, Tilly by Monqiue Gray Smith and The Break by Katherena Vermette.

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