Andrea Lanouette has been awarded first place in the annual Aboriginal Arts and Stories writing contest. She wrote a story about B.C.'s Highway of Tears.

Surrey teen writer wins national award

Highway of Tears story examines B.C.’s notorious Highway 16.

Lord Tweedsmuir Grade 11 student Andrea Lanouette has been awarded first place in the annual Aboriginal Arts and Stories writing contest entitled “Our Story” organized by Historica Canada.

Her story, titled “Tears,” is written through the eyes of a young boy and how his close friend, a young aboriginal girl named Caroline, is found murdered on Highway 16 – an 800-kilometre stretch of road between Prince George and Prince Rupert in northern B.C.

It is referred to as the Highway of Tears due to the large number of women who have been killed or gone missing along the route.

Lanouette, from the Haisla Nation, had seen the flyer for the contest in the aboriginal room at her school, but it wasn’t until her creative writing teacher encouraged her to give it a shot that she decided to enter.

“My dad was the one that suggested writing a story about the tragedies that have occurred along the Highway of Tears,” she said, “I was born in Terrace so I had heard of the story but I really didn’t know much about it until I started doing some research.”

For winning, Lanouette received $2,000 and was flown to Ottawa to receive her award.

“It was pretty cool, a really great experience,” she said.

Since her win, Lanouette now plans to use the money to continue her studies once she graduates and hopes to become a fiction editor and even write a book of her own.

Since its inception in 2005, nearly 2,000 emerging aboriginal writers and artists have participated in the contest.

Historica Canada has a mandate to build active and informed citizens through greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada.

The contest is open to Canadians of aboriginal ancestry (status, non-status, Inuit and Metis) between the ages of 11 to 29.


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