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Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature

Sep 5, 2012

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Ottawa, September 5, 2012— As the world prepares to celebrate International Literacy Day, a unique Canadian literary award and readership initiative recognizing excellence in English-language literary works for Young Adults by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors was launched today.

Established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been supporting literacy and learning for over 50 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature aims to provide engaging and culturally-relevant books for young people across Canada. The Award is now accepting submissions from Canadian publishers until May 1, 2013.

“First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders have longed stressed the importance of literacy and learning for youth in their communities and recommended the development of reading materials that are grounded in their culture and heritage,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “With the new Award, we hope to help address this issue by celebrating the literary achievements of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors and improving young readers’ access to books that are engaging and meaningful to them.”

The Award is the result of an ongoing close collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, the Association of Canadian Publishers, and the Canada Council for the Arts, which will be responsible for administering the jury process.

The Award will be given annually to three English-language literary works for Young Adults by First Nations, Métis or Inuit authors. A First Prize of $12,000, a Second Prize of $8,000 and a Third Prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the authors and translators (if applicable) of the winning titles. In addition, publishers of the winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of a minimum of 2,500 copies, which will ensure that First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth across Canada will have access to the books through their community’s schools, libraries, or Friendship Centres.

For this new initiative, CODE will build on the experience it has gained with the Burt Award for African Literature, an annual literary prize that recognizes excellence in Young Adult fiction in English in Africa. Since its inception in 2008, 18 titles (and over 120,000 copies) have been published and distributed to youth in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. The partnerships that CODE has established with educators, writers and publishers in Canada over the last 25 years through its Canadian engagement programs will also be key to establishing this new initiative.

“We are very excited to expand the Burt Award program to Canada,” said William (Bill) Burt, who financially supports the Award.“My hope is that Canadian First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth will love the titles that emerge from this project and that the books give them new opportunities to improve the reading and writing skills that will serve them the rest of their lives.”

Read more about the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature

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