The finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year. The winners will be announced on Nov. 17, 2021.

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year

The 2021 finalists for the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

The Governor General's Literary Awards are one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious literary prizes. 

The prizes, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are awarded in seven English-language categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetryyoung people's literature — textyoung people's literature — illustrationdrama and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Nov. 17, 2021.

The nonfiction category was assessed by Sarah de Leeuw, Amanda Leduc and Evelyn C. White.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the nonfiction finalists below.

alfabet/alphabet by Sadiqa de Meijer

alfabet/alphabet is a memoir by Sadiqa de Meijer. (Palimpsest Press)

Sadiqa de Meijer is a poet who grew up in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada. alfabet/alphabet is a collection of essays that chronicle her transition from speaking primarily Dutch to speaking primarily English. The essays also explore language, migration, culture and storytelling.

De Meijer is a writer who was born in Amsterdam and is currently living in Kingston, Ont. Her other books include the poetry collections Leaving Howe Island and The Outer Wards. She won the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize for Great Aunt Unmarried.

Care of by Ivan Coyote

Care Of is a book by Ivan Coyote. (McClelland & Stewart, Ivan Coyote)

Care Of is a collection of moving correspondence Ivan Coyote wrote in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, in response to letters and communications they had received, some of which dated back to 2009. The correspondence ranges from personal letters to Facebook messages to notes received after performing onstage, Coyote told CBC Radio host Dave White on Airplay. 

Coyote is a writer, storyteller and performer from Yukon. They have written more than a dozen books, created four short films and released three albums combining storytelling with music, and are known for exploring gender identity and queer liberation in their writing. Their other books include Tomboy Survival GuideRebent SinnerGender FailureOne in Every Crowd and the novel Bow GripCoyote won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of their body of work that examines class, gender identity and social justice.

Ivan Coyote talks to Shelagh Rogers about Care Of: Letters, Connections and Cures.

Revery: A Year of Bees by Jenna Butler

Revery: A Year of Bees is a book by Jenna Butler. (Wolsak & Wynn, CW Hill)

Jenna Butler spent five years working with bees on her Alberta farm, and she chronicles this journey in the essay collection Revery: A Year of Bees. The essays reflect on Butler's personal story, the development of industrial farming in Alberta and the practical aspects of caring for bees and running a farm.

Butler is a writer, environmentalist and professor currently living in Alberta. Her other books include the poetry collections Seldom Seen Road, Wells and Aphelion; the essay collection A Profession of Hope and the travelogue Magnetic North. She teaches writing at Red Deer College.

The Day the World Stops Shopping by J.B. MacKinnon

The Day the World Stops Shopping is a book by J.B. MacKinnon. (Penguin Random House Canada)

In The Day the World Stops Shopping, environmentalist and writer J.B. MacKinnon asks the question: What would happen if we stopped shopping? What impact on the environment would it have? How would the economy need to change? Is it the answer we need to help prevent further ecological and environmental damage? MacKinnon examines different cultures, from hunter-gatherer societies to North America's late capitalism, to understand the role resources play in society. He also looks at the impact on shopping in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then imagines what it would take to arrive at a shopping-free future.

MacKinnon is a journalist and writer who lives in Vancouver. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Dead Man in Paradise and The Once and Future World and is the co-author of the book The 100-Mile Diet, which popularized the local food movement.

J.B. MacKinnon has travelled the world to try and discover what might be inconceivable to many – what if, one day, the world stops shopping? Thad Russell’s parents built an off grid home, but their plan to live a more modest life wasn’t as nearly simple as they hoped.

What I Remember, What I Know by Larry Audlaluk 

What I Remember, What I Know is a book by Larry Audaluk. (Inhabit Media)

Larry Audlaluk was born in Inukjuak in northern Quebec, but his family was relocated to Grise Fiord in the High Arctic in 1953, where they found a polar desert not fit to build a community. Audlaluk was sent to residential school, survived, and returned to his community to become a leader and advocate for it in the face of colonialism and lack of resources. He finally shares his remarkable story in What I Remember, What I Know.

Audlaluk is a community leader for Grise Fiord and for the High Arctic. What I Remember, What I Know is his first book.

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