Attawapiskat musician lands book deal with Penguin Random House Canada

Cree musician Adrian Sutherland is writing a book and has signed a publishing deal with Penguin Random House Canada. 

Adrian Sutherland to write memoir of his life in northern Ontario First Nation

Sutherland grew up in Attawapiskat First Nation spending a lot of time hunting and being on the land. (Judy Sutherland)

Cree musician Adrian Sutherland is writing a book and has signed a publishing deal with Penguin Random House Canada. 

Sutherland is a singer/songwriter and the frontman and founder of the band Midnight Shine.

The book will be a memoir of his life growing up in Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.

He said he wants to share more of the full experience since a lot of the world only sees his community through one lens in the media. 

"I just want to explore some of those things and also talk about what I see and what my observations have been and some of my challenges growing up here and being here even in the context of today," said Sutherland.

"There were a lot of good things about growing up here but there are also a lot of hardships."

He said that he grew up without running water, and he would collect drinking water from a river during the summer and in the winter would gather snow and ice or go to the community water source, which was a spot in the main channel that was kept free of ice. 

The book will be a memoir and an exploration of his life and growing up in Attawapiskat. (David McDonald)

He also attended the Indian Day School in the community, which was difficult for him and many other members of the community. 

"Music for me was always an outlet, a way for me to get through some of those hardships," he said. 

Writing was another outlet. He said he began writing more long-form pieces in college, which was a struggle at first because English is his second language. 

He later took up blogging and writing for different media outlets about life in Attawapiskat, things like hunting and experiences that he was having. 

"I always felt like there was a lot to say and a lot to share about me and the culture and what I was doing, what I was up to, some of the experiences that I've had in the context of being out in nature and how that can shape one's world views," he said. 

Sutherland said he's been wanting to write a book for years. 

"The opportunity for this book came and I couldn't be more excited and nervous at the same time," he said. 

The plan is to have the book in stores spring 2022. 

"It's going to give him the space to say what he wants to say," said Scott Sellers, vice-president and associate publisher with Penguin Random House Canada. 

Sellers said Sutherland was performing with musician Tom Wilson, who published a memoir in 2017, and chatting about the desire to write a book. Wilson suggested Sutherland get in touch with Penguin Random House.

"The more we read about Adrian's story and the blogs on his website, we just thought there was an amazing book here," said Sellers. 

He said that he's especially excited to see what Sutherland comes up with because of his life in Attawapiskat. 

"He's on the ground, he's living it, he's so involved with the community," said Sellers. 

"I think for me as a reader he can bear witness and tell that story."