Writing a novel or short story is often a long process involving changing, editing and re-arranging one’s work — no one understands this more than Fairfield author Sidney W. Harris.
For the past decade, the 67-year-old author has been slowly working on a short story from the perspective of a First Nations person. He began by writing a first draft in the mid 2000s, andcontinuously kept coming back to his piece of literature, editing and re-writing it over the years.
“It’s been left to sit and brew and I didn’t do anything with it for a while, then I revisited and re-edited it. It’s been edited I don’t know how many times,” laughed Harris.
The end result is Morning Song’s Legacy, an 18-page short story about a half-native girl. The story, which Harris describes as “dense,” follows her through her life, including three marriages and giving birth and raising seven children, along with a host of other disasters and problems.
For Harris, life has been the inspiration behind this story, but he also felt the need to tell things from a First Nations point of view of events such as the Great Depression, the European invasion and the acculturation of Native Americans.
“It’s not about prejudice, it’s not about white people and separation of Native Americans, it’s about life itself,” said Harris, who is part European and part Native American (he was a northern heyenne tribal member who was born and raised in south central Montana before he moved to Victoria in 1980).
“I’ve lived in both cultures, so when I write a story, I’m writing to bridge the two cultures. It’s important for all of us to understand what we’re doing with our lives, the decisions we’re making and how we’re constructing our society so we can be as responsible as we can . . . it’s knowledge that’s important.”
Recently, Harris was honoured for his work as a mature author, receiving a Cedric Literary Award for Morning Song’s Legacy — one he said he was honoured and grateful to receive.
The Cedric Literary Awards, which first launched in 2014, recognizes unpublished authors of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, who are over the age of 50.
Joel Scott of Chemainus also picked up an award for his work of fiction titled Jack, and Salt Spring Island’s Beth Hawkes won for her work of non-fiction titled Seasons.
“The most important focus of the Cedric Literary Awards is to recognize, celebrate and encourage emerging mature writers, age 50 and better, who have the benefit of living through some of the most important changes in our society,” said awards founder Peter Dale.