The 2022 Ryga Award shortlist has been announced, and a Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, A Memoir by Darrel J. McLeod was included.
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 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature is an annual literary prize for a B.C. writer who has achieved an outstanding degree of social awareness in a new book published in the preceding calendar year. It was initiated by Alan Twigg of BC BookWorld with John Lent of Okanagan College in association with The George Ryga Society. The award is sponsored by Yosef Wosk. More information is available at: https://bcbookawards.ca/