|Honorary Degree recipient, Sharon Butala, 2004 (University Secretary scans)|
Convocation date: October 23, 2004
Discipline / contribution: literature ; conservation
Citation / biographical information:
Sharon Butala was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan.Degree received: Doctor of Letters
Butala earned her B.A. in Art, and her B.Ed. from the University of Saskatchewan. She was a Special Educator at Princess Alexandra School and taught at her alma mater in the College of Education. Subsequently, she moved to Eastend, Saskatchewan where she and her husband ranched and she embarked on a career as a writer of fiction and non-fiction—her subjects being the lives of rural people and the ecology of the short grass prairie in southwestern Saskatchewan.
Sharon Butala is the author of 14 books, among them the Canadian bestsellers: Old Man on His Back, The Perfection of the Morning, Wild Stone Heart, and Coyote’s Morning Cry. Her work has been consistently recognized by the literary community and has garnered many prestigious awards and nominations. Perfection of the Morning was short listed for the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction and won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Non-fiction and the Spirit of Saskatchewan Award. Butala has also been short listed by the Canadian Booksellers Association as Author of the Year and her collection of short stories, Fever, was short listed for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Canada-Caribbean Section, and won the Canadian Authors Award for Fiction. Another collection of short fiction, Queen of the Headaches was short listed for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. She is the recipient of the Marian Engel Award for women writers in mid-career. Butala has made significant contributions to the cultural life of Saskatchewan where she has been active in the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, receiving the SWG Member’s Achievement Award. She is an ambassador for PrairieAction Foundation and also for USC Canada. She initiated and carried out the work that led to the preservation of the Wallace Stegner House in Eastend that is now used as an artists and writers’ retreat. Her contributions in all fields have led to many other honours. She is a recipient of the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Honour Award and has been invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Sharon Butala is one of the most significant Saskatchewan writers to emerge in this province since the days of Sinclair Ross and W.O. Mitchell. All of her work is set here and depicts the trials and joys of rural life, particularly those of farm women, acutely and with consummate artistry. As well, she has been a committed advocate of the preservation of nature and the unique ecology of southwestern Saskatchewan. In 1996, she and her husband donated part of their ranch to The Nature Conservancy of Canada to establish The Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Preserve.
Degree presented by: Guy Vanderhaeghe
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