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Winners of the 3rd Annual Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write

The Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Nhung Tran-Davies are pleased to announce the winners of the 3rd Annual Kemosa Scholarship for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers Who Write.

First established in 2017 by Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies in partnership with Tlicho Dene author Richard Van Camp, the Kemosa Scholarship offers an opportunity for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Mothers to obtain resources to help them complete the work on their writing – whether that be a novel, a collection of stories, poems, or whatever form their writing might take.

This year, there were many amazing entries for the Kemosa Scholarship, and it was a challenge for the judges to choose the winners from among them. After much thought and careful deliberation, here are this year’s recipients:

  • First Place ($3000):  Shelley Willier
  • Second Place ($2000): Trish Noelle McOrmond
  • Third Place ($1000): Teresa Callihoo        

Honourable Mentions 

  • Felice Gladue
  • Katie-Jo Rabbit
  • Alycia Two Bears
  • Amber Weasel Head

The reading event originally scheduled for April 4th has now been cancelled.

We would also like to thank Tlicho Dene author Richard Van Camp and Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis, a proud member of the Nipissing First Nation, for being this year’s judges.

Last but not least, we wish to thank everyone who submitted their writing to this year’s Kemosa Scholarship. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and stories, and we hope that all of you will continue to write and to give voice to the stories and poems that you have to tell.

For more information or media inquiries, please contact the Writers’ Guild of Alberta at [email protected].

Meet the Winners

Shelley Willier – First Place

Shelley Willier has spent over 25 years in the field of education, so she can usually be found doing something with words – reading them, teaching them, or writing them in story. She loves the power of storytelling because it creates common bonds among people, sparks emotional reactions, and shifts thinking.

In After the Moose Walks, Shelley weaves a collection of memories into a narrative of life lessons – those of her father and those for her. In sharing these lessons, she gives the reader hope and inspiration – that resilience is not finite. We grow it as we live from generation to generation.

When she is not wrapped up in words, she is wrapped up in family in Sucker Creek First Nation and Gift Lake Métis Settlement – her two boys, Haden and Sean; her mom and dad, Peter and Betty; and her love Milton. Because life is about our experiences and story is about sharing them, Shelley knows she has a couple more books she can write!

Trish Noelle McOrmand – Second Place

I’m Trish Noelle. I love living room dance parties, became a better person when I became a mum, and make a mean spaghetti and meatballs. Writing has always been a very private endeavour, recently however, I’ve felt called to stretch into more. I’ve never been good at doing life the way people expect; I suspect that shan’t change anytime soon. But I hope what I write gives a glimpse through a different brain, maybe a path to different desires.

Teresa Calihoo – Third Place

Teresa Callihoo is a descendent of the Michel Band, her family’s unique story has been a source of contemplation for her and is often captured in her writing which includes reflections about identity, her place in the world and her unfolding spiritual journey.  She currently lives in Wetaskiwin with her two daughters and their two black cats. 

Felice Gladue – Honourable Mention

Felice Gladue is passionate about telling stories of her Metis heritage. Her people come from St Laurent, Manitoba. In the 1860s, her great great grandfather Pierre Henri Coutu, owned a butcher shop in the Red River Settlement and his wife, Marie Catherine (nee Lagimodiere) was Louis Riel’s first cousin.
Felice lives in Beaumont with her Metis Cree husband and their two children. She has her Bachelor of Education and has taught for over 20 years in both public schools and Aboriginal Head Start.
Felice was born to teach. Through her company, Metis ALIVE Cultural Experiences, she brings Metis history, culture and dance to life with interactive and enthusiastic storytelling and a sense of humor that captivates audiences of any age.
In her spare time, Felice enjoys thrift shopping, playing card and board games with her family, teaching the Bible to children, capote making, beading, embroidery, moccasin making and writing stories.

Katie-Jo Rabbit – Honourable Mention

Katie-Jo Rabbit/Naatowaapistoaakii; is a proud member of the Blood Tribe, a free-lance writer, and a sporadic spoken word artist. As an aspiring author and part of a small group of authentic Blackfoot writers, Katie-Jo is currently working on her first novel that strives to put into perspective the female Blackfoot experience and dismantle the typical stereotypes of Indigenous womyn.

Katie-Jo finds herself writing in Lethbridge, Alberta, where she strives to increase the voice of the modern Blackfoot womyn through art and writing, as there are many stories and truths left to tell.

Alycia Two Bears – Honourable Mention

Alycia Two Bears is a member of the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation. With a background in Education, Alycia earned both her Bachelor of General Studies and Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary. Alycia’s journey with yoga began 15 years ago, as a form of self-care within Motherhood. Trained in the style of Vinyasa, she is a certified 200 hours yoga teacher, 85 hour prenatal/postnatal yoga instructor and 40 hour Yin Instructor.

As a trained Birth Doula; she continues her work within the prenatal realm, currently enrolled in Doula Canada’s Birth Educator Course. Alycia earned their very first scholarship offered to self-Identified Indigenous women.

Alycia is a mother to 5 highly excited, hilarious, kind, innovative children. She hopes her children watching her walking in her souls path gives them the courage to be who they authentically are. Working in highly emotional giving roles as Birth Worker, Yoga teacher, Indigenous Wellness Coordinator, Culture Connector, and home visitor, Alycia combines her Traditional Knowledge, life experiences and yoga practice to connect to oneself, self- love, forgiveness and healing. She writes because it’s how she unravels what is happening, within and around her. It is how she processes. Grieves. Loves. Heals. Ultimately finding joy in both simple moments and large, forever life changing moments.

Amber Weasel Head – Honourable Mention

We all have stories and journeys within our spirit. As we breathe life into our art pieces, they become stories of their own. And they breathe life into you”

Amber Weasel Head is an Indigenous artist of Blackfoot (Kainai) and Bitter Root Salish. She grew up on the Blood reserve in southern Alberta, Canada. She currently resides in Northern Alberta with her spouse and three children. Her art forms range from creative writing, beadwork, painting, mixed media, film making, performance and digital arts. 

Her education endeavors include National Professional Artist training through En’owkin Centre in Pentiction, BC; Studio Arts Foundations Victoria, BC; Weaving Our Stories, Institute Of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe New Mexico; Native Cultural Arts Instructor, Artisan, Entrepreneurship Diploma Program, Portage College; Diploma in Social Work, Portage College.

The artwork reflects her understanding of her culture and the connection she has with her ancestors. Her creative energy flows from personal stories, mother earth, spiritual connections and dreams. Her experiences through life have given her the strength to guide her as she continues to share her stories. Her future goals are to continue her journey, to share her visions and to further her education.

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