British Columbia Indigenous author among top five finalists for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction


An author from British Columbia is shortlisted for the largest annual literary award for non-fiction books by Canadian writers.

Today (September 15), the Writers ‘Trust of Canada unveiled 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, memoirs, commentaries and reviews.

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

Among the finalists was Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, a Memoir by Darrel J. McLeod of Sooke, British Columbia, who is a Cree from Treaty 8 territory in northern Alberta.

Peyakow digs into the complexity of Indigenous identity, including the divisions sown by colonization and by its community, ”the jury said of McLeod’s work. “This book is a testament to the connections that remain and the power to mend 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, ON);
  • Permanent astonishment: a memory(Doubleday Canada) via Tomson Highway (Gatineau, QC);
  • Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, a Memoir(Douglas and McIntyre) by Darrel J. McLeod (Sooke, BC);
  • Disorientation: being black in the world (Random House Canada) by Ian Williams (Toronto).

Among those chosen, Williams, who was previously Professor of Creative Writing at UBC (he is now Professor of English at the University of Toronto), won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize for the reproduction.

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

Last year’s winner was Jessica J. Lee of the UK, originally from Ontario, for Two trees make a forest: Travels among the mountains and coasts of Taiwan in search of my family’s past.



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