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2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards Winners
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2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards Winners

By 49thShelf
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tagged: alberta, 2019, prizes
The Book Publishers Association of Alberta is excited to announce the winners of the 2019 Alberta Book Publishing Awards. The winners represent the most outstanding work of the Alberta book publishing industry as adjudicated by experts and publishing professionals from across Canada.
Tar Swan

First man to unveil a commercial oil sands
separation plant. He poses, hands clasped,
on a boulder by the Athabaska river.

Plant mechanic
accused by Fitzsimmons
of sabotage --
he kneels by the boiler.

Archaeologist excavating prehistoric stone remains
and the Fitzsimmons camp. He peeks from a pit.

Ignored by the others,
wading ashore.

I was born a single cygnet, ditched
by Cob and Pen, left fending
in quickening lichen like mud-coaxed
bastard oxen, as shredded elephants
choired from their soup. Do not blotch
brittle leaves with tears, for my sobs,
skip-dripping from sockets, slithered
thence to the ground and pooled deep
pockets of felicity. Doodle-buggers
and orange-worms mine a blistered delight.
My feathers and feces drive your cars:
inquire of coke-drowned patch clowns
who pray for forgiveness, quitting town.

Edmonton's money is a locked fist, Manning's door knows the heat of my breath, and his secretary is a smiling hell dog. Each morning I challenge him, and Frank nods that, yes, the men are sole-held, that this gaggle of meat cannot assume a single thought. But how long can I swear by him -- I don't need to name skull diggers again. How long can this live, without a cusp of tomorrow's sunlight? I have collected your telegrams, but you know as well as I this is no loam for a woman. The boreal's a brute, not a carpet to set your baby toe upon, Wilhelmina. -- RCF

I start'd a scow mule

forty long to McMurray
for which? whiskey pant

guy-line-notched shoulders

squeezed his spiel
and swelled
to blot my name

for Fitz says he'll pay on the reg'lar
fine line by me

Gentlemen, how many Snakes did you cook today? How much Caragana stubbles your hair? How weary of sky's Dominion? How many Cotter Bolts swindle your shoes? How many birch leaves Coil at your neck? How can you let this sharpen? Witness, Robert C. Fitzsimmons, alone, steering you today. I offer an opportunity to Tickle, with your own eyes, the Tail of Charybdis. I offer the Belly beneath Bitumount's bloody baby toe. I give you (between us, men) three angels: a senator, a nameless investor, and a Karl Clark, all failing to out-swim my sequinned Undertow.

last spring
in his tar pool --
sugar-shack man

I swear to Judas
ducks were haw-hawing us
from their frittering perch

spent three days paring planks
for Fitz's boiler

beets drum the plates
and bleed into meats

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A Refugee Story
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Why it's on the list ...
Book of the Year, Trade Nonfiction
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Elements of Indigenous Style

Elements of Indigenous Style

A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples
also available: Paperback
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CHAPTER 1: WHY AN INDIGENOUS STYLE GUIDE? The need to Indigenize publishing

The paramount purpose of literature focusing on a specific cultural group should be to present the culture in a realistic and insightful manner, with the highest possible degree of verisimilitude. However, the body of literature on Indigenous Peoples mostly fails to achieve this standard. The failure has been a long-standing concern of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The failure comes from a colonial practice of transmitting “information” about Indigenous Peoples rather than transmitting Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives about themselves. The anthropologist Franz Boas put a name on this perspective in the mid-twentieth century. He called it ethnocentrism, which he recognized as a barrier to cultural understanding. Cultural understanding, he realized, can only be achieved by a “perspective from the inside.” Indigenous and other scholars have since coined other terms for this perspective, such as Eurocentrism, and have written about, for example, the British-centrism of Canada.

Some members of the Canadian literary establishment have also long recognized the damage of this perspective. Margaret Atwood wrote in 1972, “The Indians and Eskimos have rarely been considered in and for themselves: they are usually made into projections of something in the white Canadian psyche.”

The need to Indigenize writing, editing, and publishing in many ways parallels the evolution of writing about African Americans and women in the late twentieth century, and the development of concepts such as “Black History” and “Herstory.” Indigenous writers, editors, and publishers have asserted that the experience of being an Indigenous person is profoundly different from that of other people in North America. Many Indigenous Peoples and authors have cited cultural appropriation, misrepresentation, and lack of respect for Indigenous cultural Protocols as significant problems in Canadian publishing. Indigenous Peoples have frequently taken the stand that they are best capable of, and morally empowered to, transmit information about themselves. They have the right to tell their own story. When an author is writing about them—even in established genres such as anthropological studies, history, and political commentary—Indigenous Peoples would at least like the opportunity for input into how they are represented on the page.

Indigenous Peoples add their voices to the argument that it is important for any national or cultural group to have input into the documentation of its history, philosophies, and reality as a basic matter of cultural integrity. In some respects, this is especially pressing for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and other parts of the world, because they have been misrepresented for so long, which has created a body of literature inconsistent with, and often opposed to, Indigenous cultural understandings.

In So You Want to Write About American Indians, Devon Abbott Mihesuah writes, “If you plan on writing about Natives you must know much more about them, such as tribal history, their language, religion, gender roles, appearances, politics, creation stories, how they dealt with Europeans, and how they have survived to the present day.” Mihsuah further contends, “Can you secure tribal permission for your topic? If you are doing a serious study of a tribe, you can not do the work adequately without conversing with knowledgeable members of the tribes.”

Some improvements in Canadian publishing have come from a slow awakening to the impact of colonial ethnocentrism on who has been writing about Indigenous Peoples, with what process, and in what words. But works are still being produced that contain old stereotypes and perceptions, and that lack respect for Indigenous Protocols and perspectives. In 2017, for example, I asked a well-respected Indigenous colleague, who works as a freelance editor and validator of Indigenous content in a variety of Canadian publishing contexts, for examples of projects that had gone well from her point of view. Her frustration showed in her answer, which was “really none.”

Many Canadian publishers have a sense that they’re not editing work by and about Indigenous Peoples as well as they could. For the most part, they want to do it right, but often they don’t know how to do it right. Part of the solution is to develop and train more Indigenous editors and publishers, so they can work in publishing. Part of the solution is also to train more non-Indigenous editors and publishers so they can better work on Indigenous titles. I take heart from the responses of the more than forty Indigenous and Canadian editors who attended the Indigenous Editors Circle (IEC) and Editing Indigenous Manuscripts (EIM) courses offered at Humber College in Toronto in August, 2017. The IEC faculty (which I was part of until 2017) has been surprised by the increased number of Canadian publishers who are interested in attending the sessions.

Another part of the solution is to recognize work already in progress. Indigenous writers, editors, and publishers are developing and defining emerging contemporary Indigenous Literatures, and they are establishing culturally based Indigenous methodologies within the editing and publishing process.

This style guide aims also to be part of the solution—part of the process of instilling Indigenous Peoples in the heart of Canadian publishing.

Principles of Indigenous style

The twenty-two principles of this style guide are placed in the context of the discussion where they arise.

They are also collected at the end of the guide as an appendix.

Here is the first principle, based on the discussion above about the need to Indigenize publishing:




The purpose of Indigenous style is to produce works: that reflect Indigenous realities as they are perceived by Indigenous Peoples;that are truthful and insightful in their Indigenous content;and that are respectful of the cultural integrity of Indigenous Peoples.

The place of non-Indigenous style guides

This style guide does not replace standard references on editing and publishing, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook. Neither does it replace the house styles of individual publishers.

You should still follow these styles, in general, when you are writing, editing, or publishing Indigenous authors and Indigenous content. In some cases, however, Indigenous style and conventional style or house style will not agree. When that happens, Indigenous style should override conventional style and house style. If you are not familiar with Indigenous style, this may not feel right to you at first. Indigenous style uses more capitalization than conventional style, for example, and it incorporates Indigenous Protocols, which require time and attention to observe correctly.

It is helpful to keep in mind that Indigenous style is part of a conversation that aims to build a new relationship between Indigenous people and settler society. Indigenous style is conversing with you, perhaps for the first time, in an ongoing decolonizing discourse.


Works by Indigenous authors or with Indigenous content should follow standard style references and house styles, except where these disagree with Indigenous style. In these works, Indigenous style overrules other styles in cases of disagreement.

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner, Scholarly and Academic
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Essentials of Pediatric Emergency Medicine


Pediatric Emergency Medicine is a relatively new specialty with expanding competency requirements. Having an organized approach to managing patients that is consistent with best practices is essential. As clinicians, we are always looking to expand our knowledge and skills, and to use the best evidence to ensure excellent care for our patients. Essentials of Pediatric Emergency Medicine brings together the knowledge and expertise of clinicians from academic and community centres across Canada in a succinct format for easy reference.

This handbook is designed to provide the reader with a quick synopsis of the major topics in PEM. It is divided into 20 sections. The chapters in section 1 deal with undifferentiated acute presentations. This section also includes topics such as child life, non-accidental trauma and pain management which are important in the daily practice of emergency medicine. Despite the ongoing growth of knowledge and experience in these fields, there are currently few reference materials available on these topics and this guide will help to fill a significant void in pediatric emergency medicine resources. The remaining sections deal with specific pathologies and specific body systems. These chapters allow the reader to review the pathophysiology and management of specific diseases or medical conditions that are most common or life threatening.

One book, however, cannot cover everything, and for this reason several topics were also intentionally left out. Acute resuscitation is one of these subject areas. While resuscitation is the foundation of emergency medicine, there are excellent resources such as Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Advanced Pediatric Life Support (APLS) which are most up to date and provide an excellent reference.

As with any reference source, there are always opportunities to improve. I invite feedback so that this handbook can continue to evolve and provide a guide both for those newly entering into practice, as well as seasoned practitioners who manage pediatric emergencies.

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Why it's on the list ...
Book of the Year, Learning
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Shades Within Us

Porque el Girasol Se Llama El Girasol (Rich Larson)

Girasol watches as her mother shakes the entanglers out onto the hotel bed. They are small and spiny. They remind her of the purple sea urchins she was hunting in the netgame she can’t play anymore, because they had to take the chips out of their phones and crush them with a metal rolling pin before they left Las Cruces.

She is not sure she will be able to swallow one. It makes her nervous.

Her mother plucks the first entangler off the bedspread and peers at it. Her mouth is all tight, how it was when they checked in and the clerk passed her the little plastic bag.

“Peanut butter or grape jelly?” she asks, because she took a fistful of condiment packets from the breakfast room.


Her mother peels the packet open and rolls the entangler inside, globbing it in pale purple. Girasol takes it in her hand, getting her fingers sticky, and stares down at it. Ten points, she thinks. She puts it in her mouth.

She gags it back up. It pokes in her throat and she thinks she can feel it squirming a little, like it is alive. Her eyes start to water.

“Squeeze your thumb in your fist when you do it,” her mother says. “Squeeze hard.”

It takes three tries, and when it finally stays down Girasol is gasping and trying not to sob. Her throat is scraped raw. Her mother rubs between her shoulder blades, then takes the second entangler and swallows it. Her face twitches just once. Then she goes back to rubbing Girasol’s back.

“My brave girl,” she coos. “Brave girl, sunflower. Do you feel it?”

“I don’t know. Yes.”

For a few moments, Girasol feels only nausea. Then the entangler starts to prickle in her gut. Warmer, warmer.

“You should feel it.”

“I do. I feel it.”

“It should feel like a little magnet inside your belly.”

“I feel it.”

Her mother’s voice is stretched out like it might snap. “Okay.”


They test the entanglers outside, on the cracked and bubbled tarmac of the parking lot. Emptiness on all sides. Their motel is last in a ragged row of gas stations and stopovers, after which there is only the highway churning away to horizon. In the far far distance, they can see the Wall: a slouching beast of concrete and quickcrete latticed with swaying scaffold. Workers climb up and down it like ants; drones swarm overtop of it like flies.

Girasol has never seen the Wall in real life before. It makes her feel giddy. Her teacher only showed them photos of the Wall in class, and had them draw a picture of it on their smeary-screened school tablets.

While Girasol drew, the teacher stopped over her to ask, in a cheery voice, what her parents thought of the Wall. She gave the answer her mother told her always to give: their country was so good that bad people always wanted to come in and wreck it, because they were jealous, and the Wall was good because it kept them out. Then the teacher asked Fatima, and then Maria, but nobody else.

Girasol is still staring off at the Wall when her mother’s charcoal coloured scarf drops over her eyes. She feels her mother’s strong fingers knot it behind her head.

Excerpted from Shades Within Us, copyright © 2018

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner, Speculative Fiction
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