Nobody was more surprised than Neil Sterritt when he was nominated for a BC Book Prize in the non-fiction genre. One can only imagine how much more he might have been when he learned that he was the winner.
The Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize was awarded to Sterritt for Mapping My Way Home: a Gitxsan history. The book shares the history and stories of the Gitxsan people as well as the European explorers and the challenges that arose between the two groups.
He said that the other books which had been nominated were all by experienced, well-known authors, so he was surprised with the award.
He said that he received great help and support from Barbara, his wife of 54 years, and from the Creekstone editors.
“She’s a big part of it. She tolerated me and encouraged me. She’s not afraid to say things,” he said.
“The book came from the heart and I probably wrote about three or four books. The hardest part of writing it was trying to narrow it down to a continuous narrative from start to finish, and my wife helped me very much. So did my editors. They helped me to maintain the thread,” he said.
“I have a lot of stories in me so maintaining the narrative of a B.C.-based history was the challenge for me.”
He’s not sure about his next literary effort. He says he has worked with the elders over the years and feels they deserve a treatment all their own.
“They need to be mentioned and honoured for what they did and why they did it. They were selfless and they were not doing anything for themselves — they were doing it for the future generations and the Gitxsan nation,” he said.
“They never got paid and were very open about resolving various issues.”
Sterritt feels that the young people need to know the history and values of the nation for the benefit of growing up and doing the right thing in the future.