Whose House? David’s House!

David A. Robertson isn’t just one of Winnipeg’s most prolific authors (he’s had more than 20 books published since 2008) – he’s also one of its most eclectic. Robertson’s fiction spans various types of literary media, including graphic novels, children’s books and young adult (YA) literature.

“My focus in my career has been to educate Canadians about Indigenous history and contemporary issues,” Robertson says. “If I do that in a variety of ways, I’ll reach as wide an audience as possible. I think that my role in reconciliation is, really, sharing stories and truths.”

That approach seems to be working. Robertson’s When We Were Alone, a children’s book about residential schools, won a 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award. His newest YA novel, Strangers, the first in his The Reckoner series, explores themes of Indigenous mythology and addresses mental health and mental illness.

“One issue I really want to address in the future is the foster care system, which is really another residential school system,” Robertson says. “I want to address that in a way that’s helpful and productive to the conversation. I don’t do that unless I understand it, so what I want to do first is educate myself before I can educate other people.”

Sweetie the dog

“I told my daughter she could have a puppy if I ever won the Governor General’s Award. I never thought I’d actually win it.”

When We Were Alone prints



When We Were Alone illustrator “Julie Flett gave us these prints from the book, which we framed.”

Vintage record player/television

“I found this for $100 on Kijiji from an old lady who’d had it since it was new. She kept it in immaculate condition. The TV doesn’t work anymore. We’re probably going to replace it with  a flat screen we can extend out.”

Grandfather clock

“This was actually my grandfather’s. He built this. He passed away in the late ’90s from ALS, so we’ve carried this around from house to house. We need to get it fixed, but we have it here, because it reminds me of him.”

Governor General’s Award

“Mostly my wife Jill is the decorator. I don’t even have my award on display, because she’s like, ‘We don’t have the right frame for it yet!’ So I just stuff it in the cabinet with the napkins.”

Game room

“We have a pool table in here and a working fireplace. I had a dartboard, but my kids were making holes in the walls, so we took it away.”

Four season room

“This is really our little library. The kids hang out here and read. I write here sometimes in the summer.”

Children’s heights

“Jill’s cousin made this for us, and we take the kids’ heights every five or six months. Emily’s 14, Cole is 12, Anna is 10, Lauren is seven and Jamesy is three. Jamesy is about as heavy as my seven-year old, so he’s a tank.”

Published in Volume 72, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 8, 2018)

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