The CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature is an annual Canadian literary award and readership initiative that recognizes excellence in Indigenous-authored literature for young adults (ages 12-18). It aims to champion literacy, build language skills and foster the love of reading.

In addition to the cash prizes awarded to the winning authors, publishers receive a guaranteed purchase of 2,500 copies, which are then distributed at no cost to schools, libraries, and community and friendships centres across Canada.

To celebrate the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, the CODE Burt Award has launched a new Indigenous Language Award Category, the first of its kind in Canada. SAY Magazine is pleased to present this year’s shortlisted titles.

These books are available in bookstores or through

For further details on the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Young Adult Literature, please visit

This year, financial support for the CODE Burt Award program was generously provided by The Consecon Foundation, Power Corporation of Canada and The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Indigenous Language Category

Published by Inhabit Media

Named the 2017 Burt Award’s Honour Book, Inuk writer Aviaq Johnston’s debut novel Those Who Run in the Sky has been shortlisted again for its Inuktitut version, translated by Blandina Tulugarjuk. After a strange and violent blizzard leaves Pitu stranded on the sea ice, he soon realizes that he has been carried into the spirit world, a world populated with terrifying creatures. Pitu must master all of his shamanic powers to make his way back to the world of the living, to his family and to the girl he loves.






Published by Highwater Press

Three Feathers is the third title in The Debwe Series, written in English by Richard Van Camp (Tłı̨chǫ Dene) and translated into South Slavey by Doris Camsell. After three young men vandalize their community, they are sent to live nine months on the land as part of the circle sentencing process. There, the young men learn to take responsibility for their actions and acquire the humility required to return home. But, when they do return, will they be forgiven for what they’ve done?






Published by Theytus Books

Inconvenient Skin is a collection of poetry written in English by Shane Koyczan and translated into Cree by Soloman Ratt. The poems aim to unpack the challenges of the dark side of Canada’s history and to clean the wounds so the nation can finally heal. Powerful and thought-provoking, this collection will draw you in and make you reconsider Canada’s colonial legacy.






English Language Category

Published by Douglas & McIntyre

Master Tłı̨chǫ Dene storyteller Richard Van Camp captures the shifting, magical nature of the north in his short story collection Moccasin Square Gardens. The characters inhabit Denendeh, the land of the people north of the sixtieth parallel. While filled with hilarity, this collection is also haunted by the lurking presence of the Wheetago, human-devouring monsters of legend that have returned due to global warming and human greed. The stories show that medicine power always comes with a price.







Published by Second Story Press

Written by Cree author Michael HutchinsonThe Case of Windy Lake is the first book in The Mighty Muskrats Mystery Series. When a visiting archeologist goes missing on Windy Lake First Nation, four inseparable cousins (Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee) decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns and environmental protests, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!







Published by Inhabit Media

Those Who Dwell Below is the exciting sequel to Those Who Run in the Sky by Inuit author Aviaq Johnston. Haunted by the vicious creatures of his recent past, Pitu tries to go back to a normal life at home. But when word of a nearby starving village reaches Pitu, he must go help its people appease the angry spirits. It soon becomes clear that Pitu must travel to the bottom of the ocean to meet Nuliajuk, one of the most powerful beings in Inuit mythology. There he learns about his role in saving the starving community and that all in his home camp may not be as it seems.