Heritage House Publishing is delighted to share the news that Journal of a Travelling Girl by Nadine Neema has been nominated for its fourth young literature award: the Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children’s and Young Literature from the Quebec Writers Federation, announced on October 15, 2021.
“I am honoured and grateful Journal of a Travelling Girl has been nominated,” said author Nadine Neema, a Montreal-born artist of Egyptian and Lebanese descent.
Journal of a Travelling Girl is a fictional coming-of-age story tracing a young girl’s reluctant journey by canoe through the ancestral lands of the Tłı̨chǫ People, as she gradually comes to understand and appreciate their culture and the significance of their fight for self-government.
“The fact that Journal of a Travelling Girl is receiving so much attention is a tribute to all the people who inspired it and the stories they shared in the book. I feel privileged that the Tłı̨chǫ asked me to write this book.”
The novel is illustrated by Archie Beaverho, an accomplished painter and illustrator, whose Tłı̨chǫ Dene culture is reflected in his work.
Neema began working with the Tłı̨chǫ People in 1999, first as a community manager of Wekweètì, a small isolated Tłı̨chǫ community in the Northwest Territories, then assisting with their land claims and self-government negotiations under Chief Negotiator John B. Zoe. Since the landmark Tłı̨chǫ Agreement in 2005, Neema has maintained a strong bond with the community of Wekweètì and has returned periodically to conduct creativity workshops for the youth and photograph many of their events.
“I’m thankful that this recognition will give the book a wider audience, which ultimately helps sensitize people to some of the Indigenous stories upon which our country is founded,” says Neema.
Journal of a Travelling Girl will soon be released as an audiobook, and a French translation will be published in 2022. The novel has been adopted into numerous classrooms across the country and Neema has developed a free teacher’s guide for schools using the book as a novel study, available upon request.
Neema has given dozens of presentations about the book and is excited to be participating in the upcoming Salon du Livre Montreal on November 20, a panel for the CCBC Jean Little First-Novel Award finalists on October 27, and workshops through the Quebec Culture in School program and the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) Artist Inspire program.