A Central Saanich author’s memoir has been shortlisted for the Sunshine Coast Writers Festival.
Mary-Anne Neal’s book Under the Midnight Sun: Journey with the Sahtu Dene was shortlisted for the festival taking place in Gibsons on Aug. 12.
The memoir celebrates her friendship with the Dene people of the High Arctic.
In 1971, when Neal was 19 years old, she dreamed of visiting Colville Lake, N.W.T., and she reached the remote bush community by hitchhiking in small airplanes. She spent the summer getting to know the Dene people and then reconnected with some of them 50 years later.
Under the Midnight Sun focuses on the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories and unveils truths about the human spirit and our common humanity.
“Dene people are rarely featured in books and magazines, yet they are real heroes,” Neal said. “Under the Midnight Sun was born from a desire to show the world what we can learn from the Dene – qualities like tenacity, resilience, wisdom, courage and gentle good humour.”
More than 5,000 copies of the book have been sold.
Neal continues to do volunteer work and learn from Dene people.
She received a Lifelong Learning Award from Leadership Victoria in 2022 for supporting learners, particularly in the field of literacy.