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Winner of the 2018 BC National Award for Canadian Nonfiction Goes To...

abstract: One of the highlights of the Canadian literary season lands each February. I am speaking of the annual BC Canadian Nonfiction Awards presented by the BC Achievement Foundation. The award, now in its 14th season, carries a prize of $40,000 and each finalist also receives a prize of $5,000. It is the only national award funded and hosted in BC. The rest (the Giller, the Governor General) derive from Toronto. This has two benefits: the West gets to meet authors from across the country and the east coast authors who make the grade get to come and enjoy West Coast hospitality, taste our local craft beers, and perhaps take a few turns on the local mountains --real mountains!

This year the ceremony was held at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre on the University of British Columbia campus.


January 28, 2018
— The reason for the anticipation is the quality of the finalists and the quality of the speeches delivered each year by persons selected to introduce each of the finalists just before the drum roll begins and the winner is announced. The BCAF's chairman is one of Canada's notable senior publishers - Scott MacIntyre (formerly of Douglas & MacIntyre).

The winner was CBC/CTV radio and television journalist, Carol Off for her compelling book, All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey into the Lives of Others (published by Penguin Random House Canada). Off has been a co-host of CBC Radio One's As It Happens since 2006. She is married to the fine writer, Linden MacIntyre (m. 2000) Educated at University of Western Ontario. She won a Gemini Award for Best News Information Segment. The jury said,

All We Leave Behind is a timely memoir that offers both context to and a close-up of uncomfortable truths: the failures of the West's involvement in Afghanistan, the hurdles confronting refugees who seek safety in Canada, and the dilemma of a combat journalist expected to maintain professional distance from her sources.

Carol Off relied on Asad Aryubwal's willingness to reveal the crimes of warlords on whom NATO pinned its hopes for stability after the reign of the Taliban, but his on-camera testimony put him and his family at risk. After precarious years in exile, the Aryubwals hoped for refugee status in Canada; Off decided she had to help. Then began a harrowing seven-year battle with corrupt or hostile bureaucracies, abroad and at home. With bracing insight and a skillfully crafted narrative, this work forces a rethinking of our attitudes to those who ask us for sanctuary. Speeches were amazing, as always and this award brings a nice $40k purse. Largest in Canada's lit award scene. Kudos to BC Achievement Foundation.

The shortlisted authors, all of whom you are urged to also pick up their books, were...

  • Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador, and the Future of Hockey by Ken Dryden
  • Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough by Doug Saunders
  • Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga
  • The finalists were chosen from among 156 books submitted by 45 publishers from across Canada. The 2018 jury consisted of: Jan Walter, Jury Chair, editor, publishing executive, bookseller and former Chair of the Kingston WritersFest Board; Rick Antonson, author, book publisher, lecturer and former CEO of Tourism Vancouver; and, Eliza Reid, co-founder of Iceland Writers' Retreat, writer, editor and currently the First Lady of Iceland.

    Past winners include Sandra Martin, Rosemary Sullivan, Karyn L. Freedman, Thomas King, Modris Eksteins, Charlotte Gill, John Vaillant, Ian Brown, Russell Wangersky, Lorna Goodison, Noah Richler, Rebecca Godfrey, and Patrick Lane.

    "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. This year's shortlist of four exceptional books of non -fiction, selected from 156 submissions, exemplifies everything our Award stands for," said Scott McIntyre, Foundation Chair. "We are very proud of our jury's final selections. And we are equally proud that the province of British Columbia continues to offer a national award of this stature."

    British Columbia Achievement Foundation
    T. 604.261.9777 | Toll Free 866.882.6088 (in BC)
    F. 778.379.0511



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