Gitxsan journalist and author Angela Sterritt. Photo by Farah Nosh.

MMIWG book up for major award

Angela Sterritt’s Unbroken has been nominated for a Hilary Weston Prize

By Pamela Albert

Angela Sterritt’s book Unbroken:  My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls has been nominated for a Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

The award,  for excellence in the category of literary nonfiction, will be presented in November.

Sterritt said finding the right publisher for her first book was a challenge. 

“There were some big publishers that wanted to publish me but had parameters on what they thought the world wanted to see. I knew as an Indigenous woman I needed to push and fight for my lens to be front and center,” she said. 

Sterritt is from the Gitanmaax community within the Gitxsan Nation and is an award-winning journalist and national best-selling author.

She describes her work as “part memoir and part investigation into the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls.” 

Sterritt said she wrote with two audiences in mind: she wanted to empower and provide a strength-based lens for Indigenous people, while at the same time providing a space for non-Indigenous Canadians to learn about Indigenous people through an Indigenous lens.

Unbroken delves into why mainstream media has taken so long to cover the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls.  In doing so, she reflects on her own life as a journalist and an Indigenous woman, which often mirrored the stories covered.

Sterritt said she didn’t want to engage in “trauma porn” in the book. Stories that have previously been reported failed to honour the women and girls lives respectfully and fail to mention the layers and years of colonization that have brought us here.

Many of the chapters begin with the language and a land description which honors and respects the territory of each woman or girl.

Sterritt recalls as a young person there were no books that reflected who she was. Her  inspiration came from a long line of Indigenous authors who came before her.

Author and poet Lee Maracle inspired her to blaze her own path. “That’s always who I wanted to be in my heart…someone who wants to see change in a world that is so rigid,” Sterritt said.

 “I think my next book will be of the same tone, will basically be investigative journalism into another topic,” Sterritt shared, when asked what the future holds for her writing.

“I’m still keen to write stories. I will always tell stories of Indigenous people and I will always be telling the truth.”

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