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Two BC writers up for Weston prize

September 21st, 2023

The BC authors, Angela Sterritt (pictured at right) and John Vaillant, have been shortlisted for the lucrative Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Sterritt’s Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls (Greystone Books $34.95) is her memoir about going from a Gitxsan teenager navigating life on the streets to an acclaimed journalist. The memoir is written alongside Sterritt’s investigative reporting on cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Sterritt steps into a place of power where she shows how colonialism and racism led to a society where she struggled to survive as a young person, demands accountability from the media and the public, and makes clear that there is much work to do on the path towards understanding the truth. Most importantly, she proves that the strength and brilliance of Indigenous women is unbroken and that together, they can build lives of joy and abundance.

The jury citation states: “Angela Sterritt’s Unbroken is a masterclass in investigative journalism. Weaving a memoir of survival on the streets together with the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Sterritt creates a book that is as necessary and urgent as it is beautiful. Infused with vulnerability and bravery, Unbroken balances intergenerational trauma with hope that is authentic, hard-earned, and very, very real. With the heart and instinct of a practiced storyteller, as well as the research skills of a seasoned reporter who leaves no stone unturned, Sterritt offers her own story as a light that shines on one of the darkest ongoing episodes in modern Canadian history.”

John Vaillant. Photo by Ian Hinkle.

John Vaillant’s Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast (Knopf $38) is his deep dive into fire and how it has shaped our culture for millennia: it has allowed us to cook our food, heat our homes and power the machines that drive our titanic economy. Yet this volatile energy source has always threatened to elude our control, and in an age of intensifying climate change we are witnessing its destructive power unleashed in previously unimaginable ways. The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire was a preview of what is to come, warns John Vaillant. Fire Weather takes readers on a journey through the intertwined histories of North America’s oil industry and the birth of climate science, to the unprecedented devastation wrought by modern forest fires, and into lives forever changed by these disasters.

The jury citation states: “John Vaillant’s Fire Weather reveals to readers a character as ruthless, creative, and destructive as any in modern literature: fire itself. Through dynamic prose, deep research, and a profound sense of the stakes on a planet beset by climate change, Vaillant traces how Canada’s geological and economic history have converged to transform fire from a useful tool into an existential threat to our way of life. In the process, he crafts a narrative pulsing with beauty and annihilation, hubris and desire, and the unsettling revelation that what humanity has long considered its most important tool is no longer under our control.”


The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction is given annually for excellence in the category of literary nonfiction, which includes essays, history, biography, memoir, commentary and criticism. The winning book demonstrates a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style and technique. This award has been sponsored by The Hon. Hilary M. Weston since 2011 and is funded this year by the Hilary and Galen Weston Foundation. Beginning in 2023, the prize purse has increased from $60,000 to $75,000. Each of the shortlisted authors will also receive $5,000.



Angela Sterritt is an award-winning journalist, writer, and artist. In 2020 she was named one of Vancouver’s 50 most influential people by Vancouver Magazine’s Power 50. In 2021 she won both a Canadian Screen Award for best reporter of the year as well as a national Radio Television Digital News Association Award. Sterritt has worked with CBC since 2003 and is currently with CBC Vancouver as a host and television, radio and digital reporter. Unbroken is her debut memoir.


John Vaillant is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. His debut novel, The Jaguar’s Children, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed won the Pearson Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize. Vaillant has received a Governor General’s Literary Award, British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Nonfiction, and the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and The Walrus, among other publications.


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