The shortlists for the 2022 BC and Yukon Book Prizes have been announced, and Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, A Memoir by Darrel J. McLeod is shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize and the Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes.
Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, A Memoir is a follow-up to Darrel J. McLeod’s 2018 memoir Mamaskatch, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction. In Peyakow, McLeod continues the poignant story of his impoverished youth, beset by constant fears of being dragged down by the self-destruction and deaths of those closest to him as he battles the bullying of white classmates, copes with the trauma of physical and sexual abuse, and endures painful separation from his family and culture. With steely determination, he triumphs: now elementary teacher; now school principal; now head of an Indigenous delegation to the UN in Geneva; now executive in the Government of Canada—and now a celebrated author.
Brutally frank but buoyed throughout by McLeod’s unquenchable spirit, Peyakow—a title borrowed from the Cree word for “one who walks alone”—is an inspiring account of triumph against unimaginable odds. McLeod’s perspective as someone whose career path has crossed both sides of the Indigenous/white chasm resonates with particular force in today’s Canada.
Darrel J. McLeod is Cree from Treaty-8 territory in Northern Alberta. Before deciding to pursue writing, he worked as an educator, chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French literature and education from the University of British Columbia. He currently lives in Sooke, BC, and divides his time between writing and singing in a jazz band.
The Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize is awarded to the author(s) of the best original work of literary non-fiction.
The Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes is awarded to the author(s) and/or illustrators of an original work of published writing (poetry, fiction or nonfiction for adults or children, including graphic novels or picture books) that challenges or provokes the ideas and forces that shape what writing, art, and/or society can become.
The BC and Yukon Book Prizes, established in 1985, celebrate the achievements of British Columbia and Yukon writers, illustrators and publishers. The 10 Prizes are presented annually at the BC and Yukon Book Prizes Gala and are administered and awarded by members of a non-profit society who represent all facets of the publishing and writing community.