Indigenous B.C. author among five finalists for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

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      An author from B.C. is in the running for the largest annual literary prize for nonfiction books by Canadian writers.

      Today (September 15), the Writers’ Trust of Canada has revealed the five finalists for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. The award recognizes excellence in non-fiction, which includes personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoir, commentary, and criticism.

      A jury consisting of Canadian authors—Kevin Chong from Vancouver; Terese Marie Mailhot, who is from the Seabird Island First Nation in B.C.; and professional explorer, historian, and geographer Adam Shoaltsselected the finalists from 107 titles submitted by 64 publishers.

      Among the finalists was Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, A Memoir by Darrel J. McLeod of Sooke, B.C., who is Cree from Treaty-8 territory in Northern Alberta.

      "Peyakow digs into the complexity of Indigenous identity, including the divisions sewed by colonization and by one’s community,” the jury stated of McLeod’s work. “This book is a testament to the connections that remain, and the power to repair and reconnect."

      The five finalists, who each receive $5,000, are:

      • Nishga (McClelland & Stewart) by Jordan Abel (Edmonton);
      • On Foot to Canterbury: A Son's Pilgrimage (University of Alberta Press) by Ken Haigh (Clarksburg, Ontario);
      • Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir (Doubleday Canada) by Tomson Highway (Gatineau, Quebec);
      • Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, A Memoir (Douglas & McIntyre) by Darrel J. McLeod (Sooke, B.C.);
      • Disorientation: Being Black in the World (Random House Canada) by Ian Williams (Toronto).

      Among those chosen, Williams, who was previously a UBC creative writing professor (he is now a University of Toronto professor of English), won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Reproduction.

      The 2021 winner of the $60,000 award will be declared on November 3 at a ceremony that will be viewable online at the Writers’ Trust of Canada website.

      Last year’s winner was U.K.–based Jessica J. Lee, originally from Ontario, for Two Trees Make a Forest: Travels Among Taiwan’s Mountains and Coasts in Search of My Family’s Past.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.