Selection Committee Citation
“Richard Wagamese is a member of the Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario. He was born near Minaki, Ontario, in 1955, and at the age of five was taken from his family by the Children’s Aid Society — an experience he describes as ‘baby-snatching’ in his first novel, Keeper’n Me, published in 1994.
When Richard ran away from his abusive adoptive home, becoming a street child, he became a reader and hence a writer by going into the St. Catharine’s public library. He began his stellar writing career as a columnist for the Calgary Herald — where he became the first Native Canadian to win a National Newspaper Award. Wagamese has received numerous awards for his writing; he won the Alberta Writers Guild Best Novel Award for Keeper’n Me; the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, for One Story, One Song; the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction, for Dream Wheels; and Canada Reads’ People’s Choice Poll for Indian Horse in 2012. He has also been awarded two Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees and in 2013 the Molson Prize.
Over a career spanning more than 30 years and numerous honours, Richard Wagamese has become a vital voice in Canadian letters.”
— 2015 Matt Cohen Award Committee (Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, Wayne Grady, and Don Oravec)