Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People

Winner: $25,000
Sponsored by


2017 Winner

Ruby Slipperjack

Ruby Slipperjack


Jury Citation

Ruby Slipperjack is a trail-breaker in the field of Indigenous literature and of children’s literature in general, welcoming readers into the lives of young Anishinabe protagonists whose vigorous, resilient voices carry us into family and community, into tiny northern towns and reserves, and over a vast expanse of forest, rock, river, and lake. In subject matter and setting, she ranges where no other children’s writer in Canada has gone.

Slipperjack is exceptional in portraying the quandaries, joys, and struggles of her young protagonists with compassion and humour, and at the same time, gently teaching traditional ways in the context of contemporary Indigenous life. She shows the elasticity and strength of relationships between generations, across families and among those who offer friendship to the wanderer. She offers detail that makes us see vividly the close-up of wild blueberries hanging on their bushes, or the worn linoleum in front of a stove; but she also makes us feel the enormity of the forest, the endless hundreds of lakes, and the wonderfully ordinary, assured habits and traditions of canoeing, camping, fishing, hunting, and harvesting. 

Ruby Slipperjack, you remind us all of the power of culture, family, traditions, inheritance.

We give thanks to you and to your family and to your ancestors, your editors, your publishers and your characters for welcoming us into your community in such a beautiful way.

Chi Migwiich for all that you have done for so many for so long.

- Jurors Deirdre Baker, Richard Van Camp, and Marthe Jocelyn

Select Publications

Dear Canada: These Are My Words (2016) 
Dog Tracks (2008) 
Weesquachak (2005) 
Little Voice (2001) 
Weesquachak and the Lost Ones (2000)
Silent Words (1992)
Honour the Sun (1987)

Ruby Slipperjack

About the Author

Ruby Slipperjack is a member of the Eabametoong First Nation and she is fluent in her Anishinabe language. She was born in Whitewater Lake, Ontario, and spent her formative years there on her father’s trapline. Her family later moved to a community along the railway mainline. Slipperjack learned traditional stories and crafts from her family and has retained much of the traditional religion and heritage of her people, all of which inform her writing. In the 1960s she attended Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie for several years, and later, attended high school in Thunder Bay. She has written seven novels for middle grade and teen readers. Her first novel, Honour the Sun, about a young girl growing up in a tiny Ojibwa community in northern Ontario, is widely used in schools. Slipperjack is also an accomplished painter. She lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and recently retired as a professor in the Indigenous Learning Department at Lakehead University.

About the Jury

Deirdre Baker teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto and is the author of Becca at Sea, which was a finalist for the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award, and its sequel, the forthcoming Becca Fair and Foul. She reviews children’s books regularly for the Toronto Star and The Horn Book Magazine. She lives in Toronto.

Marthe Jocelyn is the author and illustrator of nearly 40 books for babies, children, and teens. She won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award in 2005 and the Vicky Metcalf Award in 2009. This fall she published One Piece of String and One Red Button, inventive and wordless board books she illustrated with paper collage. She lives in Stratford, Ontario.

Richard Van Camp is a member of the Tlicho Dene from Fort Smith, NWT. He is the author of 20 books, including The Lesser Blessed, Godless but Loyal to Heaven, and Night Moves, which won the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize in 2016. He has authored six books for young readers including We Sang You Home. He lives in Edmonton.

About the Prize

Vicky MetcalfThe Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People is awarded to the author of a body of work in children's literature. The winner is selected by a three-member, independent judging panel. The winner is announced on at the Writers' Trust Awards.


About the Sponsor

The goal of the Metcalf Foundation is to enhance the effectiveness of people and organizations working together to help Canadians imagine and build a just, healthy and creative society. Vicky Metcalf created this award in 1963 to stimulate the writing of literature for Canadian children. She held a passion for storytelling and published several children’s books. The prize has been administered by the Writers’ Trust since 2002.




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


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