A member of the Spallumcheen Indian Band, just outside Vernon in Enderby, Gerry William of Merritt is Associate Dean at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Victoria in 1985 and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies. He first published a speculative fiction novel called The Black Ship: Book One of Enid Blue Starbreaks (1994), regarded as the first science fiction novel by a Canadian First Nations author.

Having taught at the En'owkin International School of Writing in Penticton, Williams, an avid "Trekkie"; and sci-fi reader, believes science fiction is compatible for themes and characters to be explored by Aboriginal writers.

In his follow-up novel, The Woman in the Trees (2004), about the syilx (Okanagan people) during the time of contact with European settlers, the character of Wolverine meets the young priest Black Robes in the Okanagan. Wolverine, Blue Dreams and Horse also encounter the first settlers, ranchers and orchardists in the Okanagan area. The stories "artfully blend reality and fantasy," are "told with integrity and humour," and represent "a valuable addition to the canon of Canadian Aboriginal literature" (according to Canadian Book Review Annual). This novel also features the character/spirit named Enid Blue Starbreaks, aka The Woman in the Trees, the woman from the other side of creation. The Woman in the Trees and Coyote observe and comment upon the "contact"; period that brought disease and devastation to the Okanagan and Shuswap First Nations. In 2016 The Woman in the Trees was made available as an e-book.

As a child Jeannette Armstrong witnessed the large salmon harvests on her people's lands which later declined to almost nothing. She has referred to her mother as "a river Indian," someone who was deeply connected to the traditional fisheries of the Columbia River system. Consequently the loss of the salmon run for her people has resulted, for her, in "the deepest possible grief." Revering water and salmon as inseparable, she pledged in 1998 to "forge something new, a new course chosen for the right reasons. A course insuring the preservation of the precious gifts of life to each of us and our generations to come as true caretakers of these lands." After a team of researchers gathered a wealth of information from and about the indigenous cultures along the Fraser River, Jeannette Armstrong and Gerry William co-edited River of Salmon Peoples (Theytus Books 2016), a book focussed on the waterway's most valuable resource, the salmon. Nine communities were consulted over a two-year period to gather research, photographs and artwork that complement the oral narratives of each community and the book's exploration of the environmental challenges now facing the waterway and its contents.


The Black Ship: Book One of Enid Blue Starbreaks (Theytus 1994)
The Woman in the Trees (New Star, 2004)
River of Salmon Peoples (Theytus Books 2016). Co-editor

[BCBW 2016]