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Katherena Vermette is a Métis novelist, poet, and author for young people. She won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language poetry for her first collection, North End Love Songs. Her novel, The Break, won the First Novel Award, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, and was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. The Strangers is her second novel. Vermette lives in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 territory.


Katherena Vermette, 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalist

Award History

Jury Citation

"Reminiscent of the hard-scrabble tales of the Métis in the Road Allowance days, Vermette offers up a beautiful, raw testament to those living on the margins. Brilliantly weaving the lives of the Strangers into stories within stories within stories, Vermette’s confident, understated prose walks the reader through the unforgiving reality of the descendants of those who stood with Riel and Dumont, grasping for survival in a world committed to a long-established campaign of dispossession. Cathartic and disturbing, The Strangers offers vital insight into the colonial brutality that still haunts the lives of the Métis."

—2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Jury (Rebecca Fisseha, Michelle Good, and Steven Price)

Jury Citation

“Katherena Vermette’s poignant novel, set in Winnipeg’s North End, opens with a violent crime that becomes the backdrop for a story of great depth and compassion. This masterfully written narrative shifts among the intergenerational voices of the women of one extended Indigenous family. The Break is a powerful, persuasive novel about the strength and love that bind these women to each other and to the men in their lives. The traditions and wisdom of a community are honoured, as is the exquisite individual humanity of each character. Although this is a novel of social importance, it transcends politics, taking the reader on a journey to the heart of what it means for one person to care about another, survive trauma, and endure.” — 2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury (Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla)

Program History

2021 Selector

Rising Stars


Works recognized by WT

The Break