Big Bear (1825–1888) was a Plains Cree chief in Saskatchewan at a time when aboriginals were confronted with the disappearance of the buffalo and waves of European settlers that seemed destined to destroy the Indian way of life. In 1876 he refused to sign Treaty No. 6, until 1882, when his people were starving. Big Bear advocated negotiation over violence, but when the federal government refused to negotiate with aboriginal leaders, some of his followers killed 9 people at Frog Lake in 1885. Big Bear himself was arrested and imprisoned. Rudy Wiebe, author of a Governor General’s Award–winning novel about Big Bear, revisits the life of the eloquent statesman, one of Canada’s most important aboriginal leaders.
Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction – winner