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Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. He is a Two-Spirit Cree playwright, novelist, and musician, best known for his plays The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, as well as the novel Kiss of the Fur Queen. Highway holds ten honorary doctorates, delivered the Margaret Laurence Lecture in 2018, and was recognized with the Order of Canada in 1994. He divides his year between Gatineau, Quebec and Naples, Italy.


Tomson Highway, 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction finalist

Award History

2021 Winner

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
for Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir

Jury Citation

Permanent Astonishment is a mesmerizing story rich in detail about growing up in a Cree-speaking family in Northern Manitoba and later in a residential school. Highway’s writing delights in tales of eating muskrat tails, speaking Cree (and learning English), preparing for a Christmas concert, and listening to Hank Snow on a transistor radio. While unstinting about the abuse he and others suffered, Highway makes a bold personal choice to accentuate the wondrousness of his school years resulting in a book that shines with the foundational sparks of adolescence: innocence, fear, and amazement.”

— 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury (Kevin Chong, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Adam Shoalts)

Program History