Tuesday, November 14, 2023 (Montreal, QC) – A multi-generational account of racism and reconciliation in Canada by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) has won two Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) literary awards.
Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, A White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation, was awarded the 2023 Concordia University First Book Prize and the 2023 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction at the 25th-Anniversary QWF Awards Gala on the evening of Monday, November 13.
Sniderman and Sanderson’s book is a “moving, accessible journey through community conflict,” wrote one juror.
“Down-to-earth, colloquially vibrant, seamlessly and impressively structured, Valley of the Birdtail welcomes the reader inside the history, realities, and emotions of people we have likely never met [but] are very happy to know,” wrote another juror.
Following the multi-generational story of two families in western Manitoba—one from the Waywayseecappo First Nation and the other from the neighbouring town of Rossburn founded by Ukrainian immigrants—the book unravels a complicated history of race relations in Canada while exploring themes of reconciliation.
A writer, lawyer, and Rhodes Scholar from Montreal, Andrew Stobo Sniderman served as the human rights policy advisor to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs. His co-author, Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii), is Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Swampy Cree, Beaver clan, of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
This year’s Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction went to Ann-Marie MacDonald for Fayne, a tale of love, mystery, and identity set in Victorian Britain.
Fayne, which debuted at #1 on The Globe & Mail Canadian Fiction Bestseller list, tells the story of Charlotte Bell, a young woman living with her overbearing father in the late nineteenth century at their family estate, Fayne House, straddling the Scottish-English border.
“MacDonald masterfully combines elements of science, magic, and gothic intrigue,” creating a narrative that “navigates the complexities of gender roles with finesse,” the jurors wrote.
An award-winning novelist, playwright, and actor, MacDonald was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2019 in recognition of her contributions to the arts and her LGBTQ2SI+ activism.
Other prize-related highlights from the gala include:
The A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry went to Erin Robinsong for Wet Dream, which one juror called “a life-affirming collection that takes seriously the crisis we all face on a warming planet.”
The Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature went to Edeet Ravel for A Boy Is Not a Ghost, “a tender and touching story” about a boy exiled to Siberia during World War II.
The Cole Foundation Prize for Translation went to Katia Grubisic’s To See Out the Night, which one juror praised as a “careful and thoughtful” translation of David Clerson’s Dormir sans tête.
The newly renamed Ian Ferrier Spoken Word Prize went to three winners: Michael “BeWyrd” Clarke for “Survival Mechanisms,” Caitlin Murphy for “All the Screams,” and Deb Vanslet for “Laughter in the Rain.”
For details of the QWF prize-winners and short-listed finalists, visit the 2023 QWF Gala webpage.