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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.

Award History

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.”
— 2017 Vicky Metcalf Award Jury (Deirdre Baker, Marthe Jocelyn, and Richard Van Camp)

Works recognized by WT

Dear Canada: These Are My Words

Dog Tracks

Honour the Sun

Little Voice

Silent Words