Winner, 2015 Speakers Book Award for Up Ghost River.

Winner, 2015 Ontario Historical Society Donald Grant Creighton Award for Up Ghost River

Winner, 2015 CBC Bookie Award for Non-Fiction for Up Ghost River

Finalist, The 2014 Governor General’s Award in non-fiction for Up Ghost River.

Finalist, 2015 Trillium Award for English language for Up Ghost River.

Finalist, National Magazine Awards, 2007 and 2008

Hugh Fulton Byas scholarship, New Haven, Conn. 2002




“It’s very rare that a book will make you shake your head and drop your jaw.  What Shimo sought out to experience in Kashachewan, and the stories she came back with, managed to shed some unexpected light on the darker side of Aboriginal existence, and its complicated relationship with the government of Canada.  There are horror stories documented in these pages, and some of resilience and courage.  The author went down the rabbit hole and showed us the many of the problems this thing called civilization can cause.”

Drew Hayden Taylor, Commentator, playwright and author of Motorcycles and Sweetgrass


“Investigative journalism at its best, Invisible North documents the plight and resilience of a community of Canadians whose hardscrabble reality most of their fellow citizens cannot even imagine. Anyone who wants to know this country needs to see Kashechewan as depicted in Alexandra Shimo’s vivid and grippingaccount.”

Gabor Maté M.D., Author, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction


“Nominated for a Governor General’s Award as co-author of the bestselling memoir Up Ghost River, Alexandra Shimo’s investigative reporting shines much-needed light on the third-world poverty and despair in First Nations communities that few Canadians are aware of and even fewer have experienced. Embedded in a remote community along the James Bay coast while researching Invisible North the author succumbed to the anguish she experienced after four months in Kashechewan First Nation, ground zero for the First Nation experience. Wracked with guilt and anger over the appalling hardship and suffering she experienced, her long road to recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder is a metaphor for Canada’s path to reconciliation with First Nations.”

Alvin Fiddler, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief


“In its heartbreaking and intense imagery, Invisible North provides an intimate portrait of the legacy of the many harms done to our people, including political, economic and cultural repression. Blending history and memoir, Shimo offers an account of life that few people know exists, and how we, as indigenous leaders and Cree people, have managed to cope and survive. I hope it provides a wake-up call for Canadians, and one that is used not just to raise awareness of a too-often silenced history, but as a vehicle for social change.”

Edmund Metatawabin, Cree activist and author of Up Ghost River


“In Invisible North, Alexandra Shimo blends investigative journalism with the emotional honesty of memoir to create an unforgettable portrait of life on the Kashechewan First Nation—and, by extension, countless Canadian reserves in crisis. With remarkable economy and insight, Shimo details the past and present injustices that underlie our nation’s greatest failing. The result is a clear-eyed and compassionate call to action that just happens to be a gripping read.”

Alissa York, Author, The Naturalist


“Journalist Alexandra Shimo’s Invisible North is an astonishing document of her experience living at the First Nation reserve of Kashechewan. This book is a cri de coeur that should be read in every school in Canada as part of every Canadian history course. Invisible Northis an indictment of Canada’s abysmal relations with its First Nations people, a triage of our systematic racism, and a detailed dismantling of every lazily upheld cliché about daily life on a reserve. I predict and pray that Invisible Northwill not only be a final unraveling of our terrible legacy but that it will provide the roadmap for positive change.”

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
Author, All the Broken Things




“Up Ghost River arrives at an important time in the ongoing national debate over Canada’s reconciliation with its native communities….Coming on the heels of the Idle No More movement…Up Ghost River succeeds in turning one man’s personal account into a telling testament of an entire people’s trials.”

The Toronto Star


“While the book’s early chapters unearth horrific memories, Up Ghost River unfolds into an activists triumphant story of survival and resistance.”

Quill and Quire (Book of the Year).


“This aptly titled, well-crafted book is an especially poignant reminder of the harm [residential schools] caused…Up Ghost River is a memoir containing a polemic wrapped in native history….By weaving together memoirs and indigenous cultural practices, the case that he makes for a louder voice in the country’s political, economic and environmental decisions is cleverly strengthened.”

Winnipeg Free Press


The story of surviving the horrors of the residential school experience has been told by so many others. But Edmund Metatawabin’s Up Ghost River is told with such unsettling bravery, in plain honest language, that this intimate portrait of his childhood memories resonates longer after the pages are closed. Reading it was an exhausting but important experience for me.

Judy Fong Bates, Literary Review of Canada.


The horror of Metatawabin’s account seem almost unbelievable, but it is all too factual, backed up with official documents. Nor can Canadians dismiss this as a tragedy from a now bygone era; Metatawabin argues that recent legislation from the Stephen Harper government is a continuation of oppression. This work is a harrowing but enthralling account of an aspect of Canadian history that the country would prefer to forget but which continues to haunt.


Publisher’s Weekly (starred review).