Richard Van Camp, Shane Koyczan win literature awards

Richard Van Camp addresses a workshop audience at the 2019 Northwords NWT festival
Richard Van Camp addresses a workshop audience at the 2019 Northwords NWT festival. Samantha Stuart/Northwords NWT

Fort Smith author Richard Van Camp and Yellowknife-born Shane Koyczan are two of this year’s three winners of awards for Indigenous-authored young adult literature.

Van Camp, Koyczan and Michael Hutchinson were named winners of the 2020 Burt Awards for First Nations, Inuit and Métis young adult literature by Canadian literacy and learning non-profit Code.

Van Camp won the English-language category with Moccasin Square Gardens, while Koyczan took the Indigenous-language category with Inconvenient Skin/Nayêhtâwan Wasakay, written in English and Cree with translation by Solomon Ratt.

Each award comes with a $6,000 prize. Hutchinson’s The Case of Windy Lake, named “honour book” in the English-language category, received a smaller $3,000 prize. The publishers of all three books also receive a guaranteed purchase of 2,500 copies.



“These books will be distributed for free to schools, libraries, community centres, and friendships centres across Canada in April 2021,” said Code in a news release.

“This guaranteed purchase, combined with a book distribution program, is what makes this award program unique. It ensures that great books make it into the hands of young readers who need them the most.”

The Burt Awards for Indigenous young adult literature, in existence since 2012, are named for Canadian philanthropist William Burt. This year marked the first in which an Indigenous-language category was recognized.