Manitoba Book Awards Short List showcases campus talent
The Short List for the 2016 Manitoba Book Awards has been announced, and the University of Manitoba is well-represented by authors, illustrators, designers and contributors who are faculty, staff, alumni and current students. In addition, the University of Manitoba Press is nominated 12 times, the most nominations for any publisher.
This year, 65 books made the Short List of titles for 15 awards. The nominated books range from Monologue Dogs, poetry by Méira Cook (PhD/98), to non-fiction works such as Decolonizing Employment: Aboriginal Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market by Shauna MacKinnon (BSW/93, MSW/97/ PhD/12), published by University of Manitoba Press.
Of the 65 nominated works, 19 were written or edited by University of Manitoba alumni. One of these is Chantal Fiola (BA/04), who is also an instructor in both Native Studies and Distance and Online Education at the U of M. Her work Rekindling the Sacred Fire: Métis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality is nominated for two Manitoba Book Awards: the Beatrice Mosionier Award for Aboriginal Writer of the Year and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.
“I feel deeply humbled and honoured that Rekindling is resonating with some readers, and to be recognized alongside the other nominees who are doing wonderful work,” said Fiola.
The book comes out of her dissertation research and focuses upon 18 Métis individuals with roots in Manitoba and their relationship with identity and Anishinaabe spirituality, discussing the impact of colonization upon Métis identity and spirituality. The interviewees bring these issues to life by sharing their personal experiences as role models of Métis people who live traditional Indigenous spirituality in modern times.
“My decision to study and write about this topic comes from the fact that there is almost nothing in the published record that focuses solely on Métis relationships with Indigenous spirituality,” said Fiola. “More than this, my decision comes out of ceremony and prophesy.”
“I am grateful for the Manitoba Book Award nominations as they will introduce the book, and therefore the challenges and triumphs of Métis people reconnecting with the ways of our ancestors today, to more people,” she adds.
Another grad with two nominations is Donna Besel (BA/76), whose first book Lessons From a Nude Man garnered nominations for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and is also in the running for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.
“I’m delighted to be nominated among so many other wonderful writers,” she said. “This is fantastic.”
Besel’s stories, both joyful and melancholy, are drawn from incidents in her life, although she insists they are not autobiographical.
“When asked what I write about, I say, ‘Sex and death.’ That covers everything. When asked if my stories are true, I say, ‘I wanted to tell the truth so I used fiction.’”
The Manitoba Book Awards will be handed out at a gala event in Winnipeg on April 30, 2016. The full list of nominees and ticket information is at: mbwriter.mb.ca