Three from B.C. make the GG’s
October 08th, 2019
Three B.C. writers have been shortlisted for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards:
- In the non-fiction category, Brian Harvey for Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father (ECW Press)
- In the drama category, Kevin Loring for Thanks for Giving (Talonbooks)
- In the Young People’s Literature – Illustrated category, Julie Flett for Birdsong (Greystone Books).
Brian Harvey grew up on the west coast of Canada where he studied marine biology and fish physiology at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia, receiving his Ph.D. in 1979 after a detour through the Faculty of Music. He has extensive global experience in fisheries management and conservation, and is an international policy and practice expert in aquatic biodiversity.
The background for Harvey’s book Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father came from his trip around Vancouver Island taken after a 25-year break from boating. Harvey is accompanied by his wife, his dog, and a box of documents that surfaced after his father’s death. John Harvey was a neurosurgeon, violinist, and photographer who answered his door a decade into retirement to find a sheriff with a summons. It was a malpractice suit, and it did not go well. Dr. Harvey never got over it. The box contained every nurse’s record, doctor’s report, trial transcript, and expert testimony related to the case. Only Brian’s father had read it all. In this memoir, Sea Trial: Sailing after My Father, Brian Harvey shares how after two months of voyaging with his father’s ghost, he finally finds out what happened in the O.R. that crucial night and why Dr. Harvey felt compelled to fight the excruciating accusations.
Kevin Loring’s play, Thanks for Giving , is about legacy – the legacy of our personal and collective histories, and a family’s legacy as it moves into an age where the assumptions of the old ways surrender to new possibilities. The main player, Nan, invites her family home for Thanksgiving, but some unsolicited truths are about to be chewed on at the dinner table. Old wounds and new realities collide, and sibling rivalry is stoked. In the end, the enduring spirit that guides this family, keeps it together.
A member of the N’lakap’mux First Nation in Lytton, Vancouver-based actor and playwright Kevin Loring’s previous play Where the Blood Mixes (Talonbooks, 2009) was nominated for five Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards and won the Governor General’s Award for Drama in English in 2009. The play was staged again at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria in early 2010. It examines the residues of residential school in a family when a daughter comes home after two decades to confront her father about the past.
As an actor, Loring has performed in numerous plays across Canada including Marie Clements’ Burning Vision and Copper Thunderbird, and George Ryga’s classic The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. He has also starred in the feature film Pathfinder, played the title role in Hosanna at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and was the lead in a comedy produced by APTN entitled Health Nutz.
Cree-Metis illustrator Julie Flett of Vancouver, formerly of Penticton, is easily one of the most successful book illustrators in B.C.
Her shortlisted book Birdsong is about the inter-generational relationship between a lonely young girl and the elderly woman who lives next door. They share a love of art and nature.
In 2017, Julie Flett won the Governor General’s Illustrated Children’s Book Award for When We Were Alone (HighWater) with text by David Alexander Robertson. Simultaneously she was a finalist for the$30,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for her book, Black Bear Red Fox: Colours in Cree Board (Garfinkel Publications), a detailed explanation of how colour words work in Cree from the Cree Literacy Network.
Flett’s success at the annual B.C. Book Prizes is unprecedented. First, Flett provided illustrations for Earl Einarson’s children’s story, The Moccasins (Theytus, 2004), winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize. Then she won the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize in 2011 for her picture book, Owls See Clearly at Night: A Michif Alphabet (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: L’alfabet di Michif) (Simply Read Books 2010). It was also shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature and nominated for the Neustadt Prize.
Flett received her second Christie Harris Illustrated B.C. Book Prize in April of 2015 for Dolphin SOS (Tradewind 2014), co-authored with Roy Miki and Slavia Miki. Based on true events, Dolphin SOS recounts the story of three dolphins trapped in an ice-covered cove on the coast of Newfoundland. After the government fails to provide assistance, some young boys take matters into their own hands in order to save the distressed dolphins. Dolphin SOS was also nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award 2015 and was cited with an honourable mention for the 2015 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award.
In 2017, the B.C. Book Prize that stresses the role of the illustrator, the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, was presented to author Monique Gray Smith and illustrator Julie Flett for their collaboration on My Heart Fills With Happiness (Orca).