Award Winning Novelist
Poet & Short Story Writer
Travels from: Saskatchewan

“Bird-Wilson’s writing is at times poetic and ever compelling. We are fortunate to have her and Ruby among us.” – The Washington Post

Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and Cree writer whose work appears in literary magazines, newspapers, and anthologies across Canada. Her most recent book, Probably Ruby (2021), is published internationally and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Amazon First Novel Award, and won two Saskatchewan Book Awards including Book of the Year.

Her collection of short stories, Just Pretending (Coteau Books 2013), won four Saskatchewan Book Awards, including 2014 Book of the Year, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award, and was the 2019 One Book, One Province selection.

Bird-Wilson’s debut poetry collection, The Red Files (Nightwood Editions 2016), is inspired by family and archival sources and reflects on the legacy of the residential school system and the fragmentation of families and histories.

Lisa Bird-Wilson is the past prose editor for Grain magazine as well as a founding member and chair of the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers Circle Inc (SAWCI)/ Ânskohk Indigenous Literature Festival. Lisa lives in Saskatoon and is the CEO of the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Canada’s first Métis post-secondary education and cultural institute.

Lisa’s Authors Outside Profile: 

Probably Ruby

Hogarth |
Fiction

An Indigenous woman adopted by white parents goes in search of her identity in this unforgettable debut novel about family, race, and history.

“Engaging . . . Ruby never disappoints with her big heart and outrageous sense of humor—and her resilient search for her own history.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A passionate exploration of identity and belonging and a celebration of our universal desire to love and be loved.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers

This is the story of a woman in search of herself, in every sense. When we first meet Ruby, a Métis woman in her thirties, her life is spinning out of control. She’s angling to sleep with her counselor while also rekindling an old relationship she knows will only bring more heartache. But as we soon learn, Ruby’s story is far more complex than even she can imagine.

Given up for adoption as an infant, Ruby is raised by a white couple who understand little of her Indigenous heritage. This is the great mystery that hovers over Ruby’s life—who her people are and how to reconcile what is missing. As the novel spans time and multiple points of view, we meet the people connected to Ruby: her birth parents and grandparents; her adoptive parents; the men and women Ruby has been romantically involved with; a beloved uncle; and Ruby’s children. Taken together, these characters form a kaleidoscope of stories, giving Ruby’s life dignity and meaning.

Probably Ruby is a dazzling novel about a bold, unapologetic woman taking control of her life and story, and marks the debut of a major new voice in Indigenous fiction.

The Red Files

Nightwood Editions |
Poetry

This debut poetry collection from Lisa Bird-Wilson reflects on the legacy of the residential school system: the fragmentation of families and histories, with blows that resonate through the generations.

Inspired by family and archival sources, Bird-Wilson assembles scraps of a history torn apart by colonial violence. The collection takes its name from the federal government’s complex organizational structure of residential schools archives, which are divided into “black files” and “red files.” In vignettes as clear as glass beads, her poems offer affection to generations of children whose presence within the historic record is ghostlike, anonymous and ephemeral.

The collection also explores the larger political context driving the mechanisms that tore apart families and cultures, including the Sixties Scoop. It depicts moments of resistance, both personal and political, as well as official attempts at reconciliation: “I can hold in the palm of my right hand / all that I have left: one story-gift from an uncle, / a father’s surname, treaty card, Cree accent echo, metal bits, grit– / and I will still have room to cock a fist.”

The Red Files concludes with a fierce hopefulness, embracing the various types of love that can begin to heal the traumas inflicted by a legacy of violence.

Just Pretending

Regina |
Fiction

From one of Canada’s most exciting new Metis voices comes a book whose recurring themes include the complexities of identity, belonging/not belonging, Aboriginal adoption, loss and abandonment, regret and insecurity.

A deadbeat dad tries to reconnect with his daughter after 22 years away. A selfish poet has been scarred by an upbringing that leaves him emotionally distant from his children and spouse. A pot-smoking middle-aged man undertakes a modest quest for meaning following a brush with mortality. A fourteen-year-old girl struggles to come to terms with her feelings of abandonment.

The characters are often fragile, sometimes unlikeable, but ultimately can be identified or sympathized with. At the centre of the stories are notions of identity and belonging, and the complex relationships between children and parents, both those who are real and those who are just pretending.

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Ethical Remembering

In this presentation Lisa Bird-Wilson talks about the transformative process of engaging with and remembering her Indigenous ancestors, the colonial violence of the Indian residential schools and the child welfare system, and what this means for her writing and for reconciliation.

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You Are Not Alone

Between the 1960s and the early 1990s, tens of thousands of Indigenous children in Canada were systemically taken from their families and placed in the child welfare system to be fostered and adopted across Canada, the US, and parts of Europe. Indigenous children were adopted into white homes and isolated in white enclaves, growing up with the impression of being “the only one”—isolated and alone. In this presentation, Lisa Bird-Wilson discusses the myths behind Indigenous adoption, including the perception that Native children were unwanted or that their Native parents were unwilling or unable to care for them. Using her award-winning fiction book, Probably Ruby, she will explore the various aspects of trans-racial adoption.

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The Métis are Visiting

Visiting is a Métis cultural tradition. Visiting and storytelling form a part of Indigenous sharing and learning—between one another, between Elders and youth, and amongst family and friends. Structured as an informal Métis visit around the kitchen table, this presentation works well with smaller groups for an intimate conversation and visit the Métis way.

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2022 AFNA Shortlist: Five Questions for Lisa Bird-Wilson

County of Prince Edward Public Library Author Conversation: Lisa Bird Wilson

JLF Lit Fest

Lisa Bird-Wilson’s Upcoming Events

“The official reports of my father’s death don’t tell his whole story” | The Globe & Mail — Essay by Lisa Bird-Wilkson

“I found my ancestors in the 1901 census. It was a tangible reminder of colonialism’s impact” | The Globe & Mail — Essay by Lisa Bird-Wilkson 

“Ethical remembering” | The Globe & Mail — Essay by Lisa Bird-Wilkson 

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Finalist 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction
Finalist 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award
CEO of the Gabriel Dumont Institute
Winner of the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award
Winner of the Saskatchewan Book Prize

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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