Richard Wagamese

Richard Wagamese

OTTAWA – Richard Wagamese is one of the first winners of the Burt Awards for First Nations, Metis and Inuit literature.

Wagamese, an Ojibway from Wabasemong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario whose columns appear in the Anishinabek News, received the first prize of $12,000 for “Indian Horse”, published by Douglas and McIntyre. He has worked as a professional writer since 1979 as a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of 13 titles from major Canadian publishers

Tara Lee Morin won the second prize of $8,000 for “As I Remember It”, published by Theytus Books, while the third prize of $5,000 went to James Bartleman for “As Long As the Rivers Flow”, published by Random House of Canada Ltd. The winners were selected by a jury composed of Canadian writers administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Burt Award’s book purchase and distribution program will ensure that a minimum of 2,500 copies of each of the three winning titles will be delivered to First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth across Canada through community libraries, schools, Friendship Centres and summer literacy camps.

“It’s really important to us that the winning books actually get in the hands of young people,” said Scott Walter, executive director for CODE, a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning in Canada and around the world for over 50 years. “Thanks to our partners, we can make sure that these three truly amazing works reach First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth, even in remote communities, so they can enjoy stories in which they see their culture and their reality reflected.”

The Burt Award for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Literature was established by CODE  in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation.

The Award is the result of a close collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, Frontier College, GoodMinds, the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council for the Arts.

“I want to congratulate the winners and everyone who submitted works for the first edition of the Canadian Award,” said William (Bill) Burt, who financially supports the initiative. “It’s my hope that First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth will enjoy them, get inspired to keep learning, and develop a life-long love of reading.”

CODE’s Burt Award for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Literature is an annual award. The deadline for submissions of manuscripts or recently-published books for the next edition is May 1st, 2014.

The Burt Literary Awards is a global readership initiative and is also currently established in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and the Caribbean.

For further details on the Burt Award for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Literature, go to www.codecan.org/burt-award-canada