book cover illustration for This Is How I Know children's book
Dr. Brittany Luby’s new children’s book

A children’s book by a University of Guelph professor was named this week as a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Awards.

Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh: This Is How I Know by Dr. Brittany Luby, Department of History, is among five works shortlisted in the children’s illustrated books category. Luby’s nomination was featured by CBC News.

The 2021 finalists will be announced Nov. 17.

In Luby’s story-poem written in Anishinaabemowin and English, an Anishinaabe child and her grandmother explore the seasons and the natural world. Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley, the tale was inspired by the author’s childhood memories of time spent with Knowledge Keepers north of the Great Lakes.

Alan and Alvin Corbiere, along with Mary-Ann Corbiere, worked on translating Luby’s English verse into Anishinaabemowin and copy-editing the bilingual book.

“This book is a celebration of teachings that transcend language,” said Luby, whose paternal ancestors originate from Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation. “It encourages readers to connect with the plant and animal teachers surrounding them and invites them to observe and learn from their environment.

Dr. Brittany Luby

“Creating this book was also an act of hope – hope that I will one day be able to read it to my children, hope that one day my grandchildren will read it to me and hope that my family will reclaim the voice we lost through the Canadian residential school system.”

At U of G, Luby has studied Anishinaabe family responses to settler encroachment, looking especially at how people respond to water infrastructure. Her current research for the Manomin Project considers the effects of settler flow regimes on Anishinaabe aquaculture. She is also among faculty members leading development of Nokom’s House, a land-based research lab planned for the U of G Arboretum.

Last year, Luby’s children’s book Encounter was shortlisted for the inaugural Sheila Barry Best Picturebook of the Year Award.

Earlier this year, she received the Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research for her 2020 book, Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory, about impacts of Canadian hydroelectric development on Indigenous communities.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.


Dr. Brittany Luby