Lisa Bird-Wilson

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 nêhiyaw writer whose work appears in literary magazines and anthologies across Canada. Her fiction book, 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. She is the current prose editor for Grain magazine as well as a founding member and chair of the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers Circle Inc (SAWCI). Her new novel, Probably Ruby, was published in Canada by Doubleday in August 2021 and in the USA by Hogarth/Random House in April 2022.

Lisa Bird-Wilson is also the CEO of the Gabriel Dumont Institute whose mission is to promote the renewal and development of Métis culture.

Lisa’s Authors Outside Profile: 

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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.

Coming Soon!

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

Interviews & Essays

Honors, Awards & Recognition

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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