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Last updated: Dec 12, 2017 6:17 am

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Queen's National Scholar in running for literary award

Armand Ruffo, the Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Languages and Literatures, is in the running for a Governor General's Literary Award it was announced Wednesday.

[Armand Ruffo]
Armand Ruffo is a Governor General's Literary Award finalist for his book  Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird. (Photo by Bernard Clark) 

Mr. Ruffo is a finalist in the non-fiction category for his work Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird, a biography of the innovative and controversial Ojibway painter.

Mr. Ruffo, who teaches in the Department of English Language and Literature and Department of Drama, says he is surprised by the nomination and considers it an honour to be included among “such fine writers.”

Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird took numerous years to write because of the huge amount of primary research that I had to do, and the way that I wanted to integrate this material into a compelling narrative, and so it is wonderful to hear that the book may not simply fall into the proverbial ‘big black hole’ and disappear quickly from sight,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s the writing that matters, and I think the nomination should help the book come to the attention of potential readers, and for a writer – at least for me – this is the best thing about the nomination.” 

Mr. Ruffo, who has produced poetry, plays and biographies, as well as a feature-length film, says that what drives his creativity is a desire to share the stories and histories of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Since arriving at Queen’s in 2014, Mr. Ruffo has continued his multi-disciplinary juggling act teaching classes in the Department of English Language and Literature and School of Drama and Music, and has become active with Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.

Another finalist with Queen’s connections is Helen Humphreys, a Kingston-based writer who is on the short list for the fiction prize for her book The Evening Chorus. Ms. Humphreys was the Writer-in-Residence at the Department of English Language and Literature in 2009.