Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 16, 2003

Thomas King receives National Aboriginal Achievement Award

University of Guelph English professor Thomas King is the recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for arts and culture. The 14 winners will received their awards at a CBC-televised gala event at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa March 28, 2003.

"I'm pleased. It's the award in the aboriginal world here in Canada," said King. "The awards are a way of celebrating aboriginal achievement. So much of the press is about the negative stuff, but this award is really looking at accomplishments that people have been able to make."

King was nominated for the award because of his artistic achievements. He is the writer of four best-selling novels, two non-fiction books, and numerous television, radio drama and film scripts. He is also the creative force behind CBC Radio's Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour. It is through humour that King has been able to bring First Nations issues to the forefront of Canadian society.

King is has also been chosen to give the 2003 Massey Lecture series — Canada's national lecture series run out of the University of Toronto and broadcast by CBC. The series began in 1961 and has been hosted by literary giants including Northrop Frye, Martin Luther King and Noam Chomsky. King is on a leave of absence from teaching until winter 2004 in order to prepare for the Massey Lectures.

King was a member of the 2002 jury selection panel for the Giller book prize, has been short-listed twice for the Governor General's Award, won the Canadian Authors' Award for fiction, won the American Indian Film Festival Best Screenplay award for Medicine River, and won the Aboriginal Media Arts Radio Award for Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour.

This is the 10th anniversary of the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. They were created as a special project of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, a national charity established in 1985. Rock legend Robbie Robertson has received this year's lifetime achievement award for being one of the most influential musicians of his era.

"This year's recipients are a stellar group," said John Kim Bell, founder and president of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. "It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Bill Reid received the first lifetime achievement award on the stage of the National Arts Centre and since that time 126 individuals have been recognized for their contributions to the betterment of life in Aboriginal communities and the rest of the country."

The awards will be televised by the CBC on April 7 at 8 p.m. For more information about the awards, visit

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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