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Melanie Florence and Susan Currie win inaugural Aboriginal Writing Contest

Second Story Press has announced the winners of its inaugural Aboriginal Writing Contest, launched in celebration of the publisher’s 25th anniversary. Toronto journalist and author Melanie Florence, who is of Cree–Scottish heritage, and Brampton, Ontario, teacher Susan Currie will have their books published by Second Story.

The winning titles were selected from a pool of more than 60 submissions by a jury comprising Second Story publisher Margie Wolfe, aboriginal researcher and writer Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis, and Métis author Cherie Dimaline.

Florence, whose YA debut was Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuit to Play in the NHL (Lorimer, 2010), is already making her presence known this fall, with three books coming out in September: two more from Lorimer (Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools; and One Night) and Missing Nimama (Clockwise Press), a picture book illustrated by François Thisdale. Her winning entry is another picture book, called Stolen Words, which tells of a young girl helping her grandfather recover the native language lost to him through his experience at a residential school.

Currie’s book, The Mask Who Sang, is the story of 12-year-old Cass, who is drawn to the mysterious Iroquois mask she discovers in her estranged grandmother’s house, which leads her on an adventure of self-discovery. Addressing themes of bullying, racism, and home-coming, the novel draws on Currie’s experience of discovering her own Cayuga ancestry as an adult.

The contest, open to authors from the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, sought previously unpublished fiction and non-fiction submissions for readers eight to 18 years old. The jury found the entries so impressive, Second Story has decided to publish some of the non-winning manuscripts as well.

“I now see that this competition should not be a one-off,” said Wolfe in a press release. “There are many wonderful stories and voices that need to be heard, so we will be looking to release titles from Aboriginal communities on a regular basis.”