My WPG: David Alexander Robertson

My WPG is a monthly series introducing you to awesome Winnipeggers who share our passion for community-building and localism. In our latest post, meet author/graphic novelist/speaker (and Governor General’s Literary Award winner!) David Alexander Robertson. 

 My story: I was born in Brandon, but I’ve lived in Winnipeg since I was about three. I spent the first twenty years of my live in River Heights, and went to elementary school at Brock Corydon. That’s where I decided I wanted to be a writer. In Grade 3, my teacher had us write poetry, and I fell in love. I made my poems into a book called The Bestest Poems I’ve Ever Sawed and that day, I ran home to my mom and told her I wanted to be a writer. I’ve had that singular focus ever since. I wrote about the things I loved back then in Grade 3. Skating. Drawing. Milkshakes. Hamburgers. Baths. Now, my passions have changed.

David A. Robertson won a 2017 Governor General’s Award for his children’s book, When We Were Alone.

Because of the cultural disconnect I experienced when I was growing up, and how I reconnected through the stories of my father, I decided to write books about the things I missed when I was growing up. So, all of my books focus on educating kids and adults about Indigenous Peoples. Their communities, histories, cultures, and contemporary issues.

I guess you could say I’m self taught as a writer. I’ve written a lot, and I’ve read a lot. That’s helped me to become the writer I am. That, and writing to my passions. Not hamburgers anymore, but Indigenous Peoples. I’ve focused my work on residential school history, representation in literature, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Recently, I’ve branched out into YA fiction, but in those books, there is still an opportunity to learn if you want to read between the lines.

 My hood: Westwood, St. James. Before that, I lived in the West End for many years. Before that, River Heights.

 My go-to takeout: We don’t eat out very much, but when we do, we usually go for Indian food – East India Palace is our favourite there – or vegan Chinese food from Affinity. I’m also a sucker for sushi. I’ll go anywhere for vegan sushi.

 My ideal date night: I’ll go with what my wife would say. Either skiing together at Windsor Park, or going for a walk in Westwood, or watching a show together in bed. But Jill never makes it through the show before falling asleep!

 My guilty pleasure: I don’t know if I have one. When I am off-project (not writing a book), I indulge in playing video games now and then. I’m usually writing a book, so that’s not often. But I’ll sneak off when the kids are asleep and play Fortnite lately. I hide in bushes. I am ~that~ guy. I am waiting to get banned for it. In terms of places to go that are guilty pleasures, hmm … good question. I like getting Stella’s smoothies at work. I get in trouble for it from Jill!

 My favourite coffee shop: Stella’s.

 My favourite brunch spot: Stella’s. See? I am boring. Stella’s should really let me sponsor them, to be honest! But their tofu scramble is AMAZING.

 My favourite local event: Thin Air. The Winnipeg International Writers Festival. Top notch festival, and the director is incredible. Charlene Diehl. Love her.

 My best-kept secret: I think Winnipeg itself is a best-kept secret. You really don’t know and love and appreciate this city unless you live here. I think that’s special about this place. There is so much here, and it’s mostly so beautiful. And I like that it’s a secret.

 My ideal day off: I don’t really take days off. That’s hard to say. When I do, I’m doing kid stuff. I have five kids. I love watching my kids play sports. Dance, hockey, swimming, gymnastics. I guess for me it would be going to a cookout at Birds Hill with my family, going for lunch with my parents, cuddling in bed with my wife and kids, watching a Jets game with popcorn and a beer with my father-in-law. I love doing the simple, little things. Don’t tell Jill, but I like going for walks with her, even though I act like I don’t.

 My favourite local band: Iskwé is from Winnipeg, so I’ll say her. Or Leonard Sumner. Or Will Prince. All amazing Indigenous musicians, singer-songwriters. I also loved the Weakerthans.

 My favourite splurge: Like, spending money on stuff? Buying action figures lately. At Galaxy or Maxx … great figures there.

 My favourite place to take out of towners: The Forks? Probably.

 Best bang for my buck: Stella’s. I just have to continue a trend here. The portions they give you are ENORMOUS for the cost. I don’t shop very much or go to restaurants though, so I am a bad person to ask. Oh! I have to plug McNally’s! Best book store IN THE WORLD.

 One place I can’t walk into without buying something: Probably McNally’s too. Books, dude. And Prairie Ink is pretty great too (their restaurant).

 My favourite day trip or weekend away: We go to Clear Lake every year. Love it there. Birds Hill. Grand Beach. Those are probably the top three.

 One thing I want everyone to know about Winnipeg: I told you, that’s a secret.

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