Indigenous illustrator, authors winners of Governor General’s Literary Awards

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 6:41pm


Cherie Dimaline has won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for “The Marrow Thieves”. She is an author and editor from the Georgian Bay Métis community whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. This is her first Governor General’s award, and she wins in the category of Young People’s Literature – text.

"The Marrow Thieves"’ synopsis reads:

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden, but what they don't know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

Dimaline has published three other fiction works: “Red Rooms” (2007), “The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy” (2013) and “A Gentle Habit” (2016).

In 2014, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and became the first Aboriginal Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library.

Dimaline currently lives in Toronto where she coordinates the annual Indigenous Writers' Gathering.

“The Marrow Thieves” is published by Dancing Cat Books / Cormorant Books; distributed by University of Toronto Press

David A. Robertson and Julie Flett also received a Governor General award for Young People’s Literature in the illustrated category for their book “When We Were Alone”. Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. Flett is an author, illustrator and artist of Cree-Métis background.

“When We Were Alone” was also nominated for a TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and was the winner of the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award at the Manitoba Book Awards.

Flett received the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for “Little You” (2013), written by Richard Van Camp; the Canadian Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Award for “Dolphins SOS”, written by Roy Miki; and for “My Heart Fills with Happiness” (2016), written by Monique Gray Smith. She was also a GGBooks finalist for her 2010 book “Owls See Clearly at Night” (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet (L'alphabet di Michif). Her own “Wild Berries” (2013) was chosen as Canada's First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014-15.

The synopsis for “When We Were Alone” reads:  

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.

Read about the other winners at