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Goodbye 2017 Anansi Prize Pack

By 49thShelf
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In 2017, House of Anansi celebrated their 50th Anniversary, and we’re celebrating it by featuring their amazing giveaway – exclusive to 49th Shelf members – of six exceptional Anansi titles, an Anansi Tote, and a t-shirt. A total value of $215.70! Contest ends Friday, January 19th at 11:59pm.
In Search of A Better World

In Search of A Better World

A Human Rights Odyssey
also available: Paperback eBook

A work of memoir, history, and a call to action, In Search of a Better World, the 2017 CBC Massey Lecture, is a powerful and essential work on the major human rights struggles of our times.

In February of 2017, Amnesty International released their Annual Report for 2016 to 2017, concluding that the “us versus them” rhetoric increasingly employed by politicians is endangering human rights the world over. Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam Akhavan has encountered the grim rea …

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This Accident of Being Lost

This Accident of Being Lost

Songs and Stories
also available: eBook

2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Finalist

This Accident of Being Lost is the knife-sharp new collection of stories and songs from award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. These visionary pieces build upon Simpson's powerful use of the fragment as a tool for intervention in her critically acclaimed collection Islands of Decolonial Love. Provocateur and poet, she continually rebirths a decolonized reality, one that circles in and out of time and resists …

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Seven Fallen Feathers

Seven Fallen Feathers

Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City
also available: eBook

The shocking true story covered by the Guardian and the New York Times of the seven young Indigenous students who were found dead in a northern Ontario city.
In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied.
More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school stu …

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It’s early April and the 2011 federal election is in full swing. All over Canada, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are duking it out with Jack Layton’s New Democrats and the struggling Liberals in a bid to win a majority government.

I’m in Thunder Bay, Ontario, to see Stan Beardy, the Nishawbe-Aski Nation’s grand chief, to interview him for a story on why it is indigenous people never seem to vote.

The receptionist at the NAN’s office greets me and ushers me into a large, common meeting room to wait for Stan. Everything in the room is grey — the walls, the tubular plastic tables, the carpets. The only splash of colour is a large white flag with a bear on it that has been tacked to the wall.

The Great White Bear stands in the centre of a red circle, in the middle of the flag. The white bear is the traditional symbol of the life of the North American Indian. The red circle background is symbolic of the Red Man. His feet are standing, planted firmly on the bottom line, representing the Earth while his head touches the top line, symbolic to his relationship to the Great Spirit in the sky. The bear is stretched out, arms and feet open wide, to show he has nothing to hide.

There are circles joining the bear’s rib cage. They are the souls of the people, indigenous songs, and legends. The circles are the ties that bind all the clans together.

These circles also offer protection. Without them, the ribcage would expose the great bear’s beating heart and leave it open to harm.

Stan walks in and greets me warmly, his brown eyes twinkling as he takes a seat.

Stan is pensive, quiet, and patient. He says nothing as he wearily leans back in his chair and waits for me to explain why exactly I flew 2,400 km north from Toronto to see him and talk about the federal election.

I launch into my spiel, trying not to sound like a salesperson or an interloper into his world, someone who kind of belongs here and kind of does not. This is the curse of my mixed blood. I am the daughter of a half-Anish mom and a Polish father.

I ramble off abysmal voting pattern statistics across Canada, while pointing out that in many ridings indigenous people could act as a swing vote, influencing that riding and hence the trajectory of the election.

Stan stares at me impassively. Non-plussed.

So I start firing off some questions.

It doesn’t go well. Every time I try to engage him, asking him about why indigenous people won’t get in the game and vote, he begins talking about the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Jordan Wabasse.

It was a frustrating exchange, like we were speaking two different languages.

“Indigenous voters could influence fifty seats across the country if they got out and voted but they don’t. Why?” I ask.

“Why aren’t you writing a story on Jordan Wabasse? He has been gone seventy-one days now,” replies Stan.

“Stephen Harper has been no friend to indigenous people yet if everyone voted, they could swing the course of this election,” I continue, hoping he’ll bite at the sound of Harper’s name. The man is no friend of the Indians.

“They found a shoe down by the water. Police think it might have been his,” replies Stan.

This went on for a good fifteen minutes. I was annoyed. I knew a missing Grade 9 indigenous student in Thunder Bay would not make news in urban Toronto at Canada’s largest daily newspaper. I could practically see that election bus rolling away without me.

Then I remembered my manners and where I was.

I was sitting with the elected grand chief of 23,000 people and he was clearly trying to tell me something.

I tried a new tactic. I’d ask about Jordan and then I’d swing around and get him to talk about elections.

Then Stan said: “Jordan is the seventh student to go missing or die while at school.”


Stan says their names: “Reggie Bushie. Jethro Anderson. Paul Panacheese. Curran Strang. Robyn Harper. Kyle Morrisseau. And now, Jordan Wabasse.”

He then tells me the seven were hundreds of miles away from their home communities and families.

Each was forced to leave their reserve simply because there was no high school for them to attend.

“Going to high school is the right of every Canadian child,” says Stan, adding that these children are no different.

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Minds of Winter

Minds of Winter

also available: eBook

Finalist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Longlisted for the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

It begins with a chance encounter at the top of the world.

Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada, about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Both are in search of answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, and Fay for her vanished grandfather. Driving Fay into town from the airport on a freezing January night, Nelson reveals a folde …

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Barrelling Forward

Barrelling Forward

also available: eBook

Winner, Canadian Authors Emerging Writer Award

Finalist, Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers

Shortlisted for the NLCU Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers, Barrelling Forward is a brilliantly crafted debut collection from Newfoundland’s newest literary star.

Eva Crocker sees life in sharper focus than the rest of us. The objects, rituals, and scenes of everyday life take on an almost mythic quality in these stories, even while remaining intimately recognizable to us all. Crocker peers …

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The Lodge

“Your mother thought you might like to have these for your new place.” Walt’s father had arrived unannounced, holding a set of pressed curtains in a grocery bag.

“You’re cooking,” his father said. Walt realized he’d brought the spatula to the door with him.

“Just breakfast.” Walt heard the shower shut off, the pipes stuttering in the wall.

“There’s someone here?”

“A friend. He’s helping me move.”

His father passed him the package, little beads of rain still on the bag. Walt’s father edged his way into the apartment as Walt stepped backwards to make room for him.

“New windows?” His father looked around in the living room.

“It’s renovated.” Walt skimmed a hand along the sharp hairs growing on his jawbone. He was aware of the heat spreading across his face.

“Good, it’s easier to keep a new place clean. We drove by and saw you didn’t have any curtains up and your mother thought you might like to have some.”

The door to the bathroom opened, the hall flooding with warm damp air and the smell of shampoo. Trent was wearing jeans and a t-shirt but his feet were bare. His hair was dripping, making dark circles on his shirt.

“Trent, this is my Dad.”

Trent took three steps down the hall and held out his hand. His feet leaving wet smudges on the floor. Walt’s back was against the closet door, which was made of thin strips of wood held together with a rubbery plastic. The door creaked against the weight of his body.

“I’m Trent.” Trent extended his hand. He was taller and broader than Walt’s father.

Suddenly, the apartment filled with a high-pitched bleating. At first it sounded like a bird but the louder it got the more mechanical it sounded. For a moment the three men stood staring at each other, paralyzed by the sound. Trent had dropped Walt’s father’s hand but they were still standing close enough to be touching. Walt held the curtains protectively against his chest. Trent’s dog barked on the back deck.

“It’s the fire alarm,” Trent said. “There’s something burning. Do you smell something burning?”

“It’s toast. I was making toast under the broiler,” Walt replied before darting out of the room.

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Glorious & Free

Glorious & Free

The Canadians
by Rita Field-Marsham & Kim Bozak
illustrated by Frank Viva
foreword by Yann Martel
also available: eBook

33 personal stories that redefine how Canadians see themselves.

We are more than just landscapes, polar bears, Mounties, and canoes. More than just “thank yous,” “sorrys,” hot prime ministers, and doughnut shops. We are also tattoo artists who have discovered the secret to cheating death. Designers hell-bent on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Super soldiers who take “live vests” off suicide bombers. Freethinkers who refuse to be tamed. We are global-village visionaries, world record se …

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