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Teela May Reid with her niece Jakayla May Reid, photo by John Jans.
Presented at the WA Premier’s Book Awards ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia in Perth on Friday, Teela Reid received $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books.
The national award is for an unpublished work of Indigenous junior or YA writing, and is named in honour of the late Daisy Utemorrah: an Elder of the Wunambal people, award-winning poet, author, community leader, educator and one of the founders of Magabala Books.
Inspired by her nine-year old niece Jakayla May Reid and Daisy Utemorrah’s own story, Teela said:
‘I felt an urge to submit my story having learned more about Daisy Utemorrah, but also the fact that I have been strongly shaped by all the Matriarchs in my life. The story is something that comes from my soul and my spirit.’
Teela Reid is a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and activist born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW. Teela is a co-founder of @blackfulla_bookclub on Instagram, a platform that honours First Nations Ancestors as the original storytellers and is currently a criminal defence lawyer based in Sydney. She is an advocate for abolishing systemic racism in the criminal justice process and a campaigner for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
On winning the award Teela said:
‘I am deeply humbled to receive this award and to be collaborating with my niece Jakayla, the little Wiradjuri and Wailwan artist who will come through and illustrate this story with me.
‘My gratitude to our ancestors and to the matriarchs in our First Nations communities. They are the backbone of our communities and their stories need to be honoured and told. They are integral to our history and our survival and our existence.
‘I would also like to acknowledge and recognise Daisy Utemorrah. It was never my intention to submit a manuscript, but I had an urge and energy, thinking about her and her story, and thinking about the matriarchs in my life.’
The Award was judged by Magabala Publisher Rachel Bin Salleh and award-winning author and illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina. Both judges were impressed with the high standard of entries for the award.
Of Teela’s winning work they said:
‘‘Our Matriarchs Matter’ is a powerful work of junior fiction - a beautiful soaring tribute to the strength of matriarchs that will delight and inspire young readers.’
Rachel Bin Salleh, said the win presents a unique opportunity for Magabala:
‘We’re thrilled to be able to work with Teela on her debut book, ‘Our Matriarchs Matter’. She has such an incredible energy and is an absolute dynamo – as a lawyer, an activist and now as an author. We are humbled to share this journey with her and her niece Jakayla. The story is such an important, timely and moving tribute to First Nations Matriarchs.’
Magabala Books will publish Teela’s winning manuscript in 2021.
The Daisy Utemorrah Award is made possible thanks to the support of the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund and the State Government of Western Australia.