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The BC National Non-Fiction Award Finalists

Friday, December 1, 2017

Today the BC Achievement Foundation announced the finalists for the 2018 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. These finalists include: Ken Dryden for Game Change: the Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey; Carol Off for All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey into the Lives of Others; Doug Saunders for Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough; and, Tanya Talaga for Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City.

The four finalists were chosen from 156 submissions from 45 Canadian publishers: the winner will receive a prize of $40,000, and each of the finalists receives a prize of $5,000. Learn more about the award and jury from the BC Achievement Foundation's news release.

From the BC Achievement Foundation's chair Scott McIntyre come these wise words: "Writers are the essential lifeblood of our culture, and while they may labour in isolation, their words help us understand who we are, and our place in the world."

Ken Dryden's Game Change is commercially available in audio format so we cannot produce it for the NNELS collection; if you want to read this book, please ask for it at your local public library.

Here are the finalists and longlisted titles we have available in accessible formats. The winner will be announced February 1, 2018. Happy reading!

The Finalists

Carol Off, All we leave behind : a reporter's journey into the lives of others

In 2002, Carol Off and a CBC TV crew encountered an Afghan man with a story to tell. Asad Aryubwal became key to their documentary on the terrible power of thuggish warlords who were working arm in arm with Americans and NATO troops. When Asad publicly exposed the deeds of one particular warlord, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, it set off a chain of events from which there was no turning back. Asad, his wife, Mobina, and their five children had to flee their home. Their only chance for a peaceful life was to emigrate--yet year after year of agonizing limbo would ensue as they were thwarted by a Byzantine international bureaucracy and the decidedly unwelcoming policies of Stephen Harper's government. Carol Off's powerful account traces not only one family's journey and fraught attempts to immigrate to a safe place, it also illustrates what happens when a journalist becomes deeply involved with the people in her story and is unable to leave them behind.

Doug Saunders, Maximum Canada : why 35 million Canadians are not enough

Globe and Mail feature columnist Doug Saunders argues we need 100 million Canadians if we're to outgrow our colonial past and build a safer, greener, more prosperous future. It would shock most Canadians to learn that before 1967, more people fled this country than immigrated to it. That was no accident. Long after we ceased to be an actual colony, our economic policies and social tendencies kept us poorly connected to the outside world, attracting few of the people and building few of the institutions needed to sustain us. Canada has a history of underpopulation, and its effects are still being felt. Post-1967, a new Canada emerged. The closed, colonial idea of Canada gave way to an open, pluralist and connected vision. Yet support for a closed Canada remains influential. The author proposes a most audacious way forward: To avoid global obscurity and create lasting prosperity, to build equality and reconciliation of indigenous and regional divides, and to ensure economic and ecological sustainability, Canada needs to triple its population. Doug Saunders writes the Globe and Mail's international-affairs column, and also serves as the paper's online opinion and debate editor. He has published two books. His first, Arrival City (2010) chronicled the unprecedented wave of rural-to-urban migration and the rise of urban immigrant enclaves. His second, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (2012), examined the effects of immigration from Islamic countries to the West.

Tanya Talaga, Seven fallen feathers : racism, death, and hard truths in a northern 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 students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau's grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang's. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie's death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water. Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada's long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities. Tanya Talaga has been a journalist at the Toronto Star for twenty years.

The Longlist

Stephen R. Bown, Island of the blue foxes : disaster and triumph on Bering's great voyage to Alaska

The immense eighteenth-century scientific journey, variously known as the Second Kamchatka Expedition or the Great Northern Expedition, from St. Petersburg across Siberia to the coast of North America, involved over 3,000 people and cost Peter the Great over one-sixth of his empire's annual revenue. Led by the legendary Danish captain Vitus Bering, the ten-year voyage, which included scientists, artists, mariners, soldiers, and laborers, discovered Alaska, opened the Pacific fur trade, and, thanks to the brilliant naturalist Georg Steller, discovered dozens of New World plants and animals. The story of the expedition is a tale not only of adventure and historic achievement, but also of shipwreck, endurance, and one of the most tragic and ghastly trials of suffering in the annals of maritime and arctic history..

James Maskalyk, Life on the ground floor : letters from the edge of emergency medicine

In this deeply personal book, humanitarian doctor and activist James Maskalyk, author of the highly acclaimed Six Months in Sudan, draws upon his experience treating patients in the world's emergency rooms. From Toronto to Addis Ababa, Cambodia to Bolivia, he discovers that although the cultures, resources and medical challenges of each hospital may differ, they are linked indelibly by the ground floor: the location of their emergency rooms. Here, on the ground floor, is where Dr. Maskalyk witnesses the story of "human aliveness" -- Our mourning and laughter, tragedies and hopes, the frailty of being and the resilience of the human spirit. And it's here too that he is swept into the story, confronting his fears and doubts and questioning what it is to be a doctor. Masterfully written and artfully structured, Life on the Ground Floor is more than just an emergency doctor's memoir or travelogue -- it's a meditation on health, sickness and the wonder of human life.

Pauline Dakin, Run, hide, repeat : a memoir of a fugitive childhood

The unforgettable memoir of a family betrayed by a cruel deception Pauline Dakin, a well-known CBC journalist, spent her childhood on the run. Without warning or goodbyes, her mother twice uprooted her and her brother, moving thousands of miles away from family and friends. Years later her mother revealed they'd been running from the Mafia and were receiving protection from a covert anti-organized crime task force. When her mother decided to go into protective custody, an exhausted Dakin planned to disappear as well. But before that happened, she made a horrifying discovery. Her family's strange existence was based on a bizarre hoax, a web of lies manufactured by trusted loved ones. Complete with hit men, body doubles, and undercover agents, Run, Hide, Repeat is a memoir of a childhood steeped in unexplained fear and menace. Dakin's story stretches credulity but it was all too real. Gripping and suspenseful, it moves from Dakin's uneasy acceptance of her family's dire situation to bewildered anger at a cruel charade. As she revisits her past, Run, Hide, Repeat becomes a redemptive story of the power of love to overcome betrayal and deception.

Chris Turner, The patch : the people, pipelines, and politics of the oil sands

The Patch is the story of Fort McMurray and the oil sands in northern Alberta, the world’s second largest proven reserve of oil. But this is no conventional story about the oil business. Rather, it is a portrait of the lifecycle of the Patch, showing just how deeply it continues to impact the lives of everyone around the world.

The Patch is a narrative-driven account of this ongoing conflict. It follows a select group of key characters whose experiences in and with the oil sands overlap in concentric narrative arcs. Through this insightful combination of global perspective and on-the-ground action, The Patch will show how the reach of the oil sands extends to all of us. From Fort Mac to the Bakken shale country of North Dakota, from Houston to London, from Saudi Arabia to the shores of Brazil, the whole world is connected in this enterprise. And it demands that we ask the question: In order to both fuel the world and to save it, what do we do about the Patch?