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For Immediate Release


Feb. 2, 2009

Office of the Premier

Britsh Columbia Achievement Foundation




VANCOUVER – Canada’s largest non-fiction prize – British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction – was awarded today to Russell Wangersky for his memoir, Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself.”


            Wangersky was presented with the $40,000 prize in Vancouver at a ceremony that also celebrated the other three finalists for the award: Daphne Bramham for The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect, Mary Henley Rubio for Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, and Christopher Shulgan for The Soviet Ambassador: The Making of the Radical Behind Perestroika.”


            Canada is home to incredible writing talent, as demonstrated by the quality of the nominees, finalists and winner of this year's award, said Premier Gordon Campbell. I congratulate Russell Wangersky and all of the finalists for their achievements. Their work and the work of other Canadian non-fiction authors sheds a light on the issues and topics that shape the world we live in.


British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, now in its fifth year, is the only national book prize to originate in British Columbia and is Canada’s largest award for literary non-fiction. The award is presented annually by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation established by the Province of B.C. in 2003 to celebrate, nationally and provincially, excellence in the arts, humanities, community service and enterprise.


            The 2009 jury for the B.C. Award consisted of John Cruickshank, publisher of the Toronto Star, Stevie Cameron, award-winning author and journalist, and Andreas Shroeder, author, broadcaster, and holder of the Rogers Communications Chair in Creative Nonfiction at UBC. They cited Wangersky’s “Burning Down the House” for being an “astonishingly insightful and harrowing depiction of modern-day fire-fighting … an account so relentlessly lucid and visceral that the reader emerges from the experience almost as exhausted and traumatized as the writer himself.”


            For more information on British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and this year’s finalists, please call 604-261-9777 or visit





Bridgitte Anderson

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604 307-7177

Nora Newlands

Executive Director

British Columbia Achievement Foundation

604 261-3348


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