Xat’sull First Nation Chief Bev Sellars has received more accolades for her book recounting life at the St. Joseph’s Mission School.
They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School was released last spring by Talon Books.
Sellars’ latest award for her work came from the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, where Sellars won $5,000 and third place. The winners were selected by a jury composed of Canadian writers and educators administered by the Canada Council for the Arts and announced Sept. 27 in Winnipeg.
The award’s book purchase and distribution program will ensure that a minimum of 2,500 copies of each of the three winning titles, including Sellars’, will be delivered to First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth across Canada through community libraries, schools, Friendship Centres and summer literacy camps.
“CODE believes that it’s essential for young people everywhere to have access to engaging books that reflect their own culture and reality,” said CODE executive director Scott Walter.
“The main goal of this Award is to provide Canadian First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth with such books so they will want to read them, and then others, with the hope that they develop a lifelong love of reading and learning.”
In its second year, the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature was established by CODE — a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning in Canada and around the world for 55 years — in collaboration with the Literary Prizes Foundation. In 2013, 7,500 copies of the first three winning titles were distributed to nearly 900 locations in all provinces and territories.
They Called Me Number One, spent 52 weeks on the B.C. best seller list while winning the 2014 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature and being shortlisted for the 2014 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (B.C. Book Prizes) along the way.
Sellars holds a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia, and has also served as adviser for the B.C. Treaty Commission.