When Alex Roslin, a member of the editorial board for The Nation magazine, called recently to tell me I had been nominated for a writing award, I was very surprised. Actually, he explained that my column, Under the Northern Sky, had been nominated for best column in the Quebec Community Newspapers’ Association Annual Awards.
It is very satisfying to be recognized for something as personal to me as my writing. It is also gratifying considering that it takes a lot of work to keep up with writing a new column on a regular basis. It is work that I really enjoy. I definitely do not do it for the money as it doesn’t pay much but there are other rewards.
It feels good to get feedback from the newspapers and magazines that my column appears in. I really appreciate when a reader bothers to call or write me with comments on the column. I am told by many people up the James Bay coast that they enjoy reading about things that concern them. In addition, First Nation people from right across the country tell me they appreciate learning about the Crees in northern Ontario.
I am really amazed to have been nominated for a writing award this early in my career. I also need to recognize many people who make this column Under the Northern Sky possible. I want to thank my parents Marius and Susan Kataquapit, my grandmother Louise Paulmartin, my sisters, my brothers, my uncles, my aunts, my nieces, my nephews and everyone back home in Attawapiskat who has given me the background and inspiration to write about life on the James Bay coast. My family provides me with lots of story background and often through long phone conversations they help me develop a story idea. I am also grateful to my sister-in-law Christine for encouraging me to write and for providing me with much material on First Nation authors and their stories.
There are a lot of people involved in the regular production of my column. I want to say a special thanks to my friend Mike who has guided me along my way and faithfully provided me with a mentorship in writing. I consider him a gifted writer and I feel honoured for his help in editing every Under the Northern Sky column I produce. I will also be forever grateful to Mike’s mom, Emily, who proofreads all of the writing I do. Mike and Emily have given me all that it takes to get a good start in my writing career. Their belief in me and my abilities has opened doors I never knew existed.
Last but not least I want to say a big thanks to all the editors that make space for Under the Northern Sky and who encourage me to keep producing stories of the James Bay coast.
I am so thrilled at being nominated for this writing award and I am also humbled as I know that it is due to the assistance of many people. I’ll do my very best to keep telling the stories of the Crees in the North with a renewed interest. Gitchi Meegwetch Kaki Wichi Ehyuck (thank you very much for helping me).