Indigiqueer author Joshua Whitehead’s “Jonny Appleseed” has won CBC’s Canada Reads Contest. The debut novel from Whitehead, an Oji-nehiyaw scholar from Peguis First Nation, follows a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man as he returns home to his reserve to attend his stepfather’s funeral.

Mohawk actor and filmmaker Devery Jacobs backed the prevailing title in the public broadcaster’s annual battle of the books. The days-long literary debate sees five high-profile panelists campaign for their favourite book to be named Canada’s ultimate must-read.

This year’s runner-up was “Butter Honey Pig Bread” by Francesca Ekwuyasi, also published by Arsenal Pulp Press, was defended by chef and TV host Roger Mooking. Arsenal Pulp Press is a book publisher in Vancouver, Canada with over 400 titles currently in print, which include literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry; books on social issues; gender studies; LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and persons of colour) literature; graphic novels and non-fiction; children’s and young adult literature; regional history; cookbooks; alternative crafts; and books in translation. Arsenal Pulp Press is interested in literature that engages and challenges readers, and which asks probing questions about the world around us.

Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead about a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man who leaves the reserve and becomes a cybersex worker in the big city to make ends meet. But he must reckon with his past when he returns home to attend his stepfather’s funeral. Jonny Appleseed won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The book is championed by Devery Jacobs, a Mohawk actor and filmmaker from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk territory. She can be seen in the film Rhymes for Young Ghouls and the television shows The Order on Netflix, Cardinal on CTV and American Gods on Amazon Prime Video/STARZ. Her next major role will be in Taika Waititi’s new FX series Reservation Dogs. Her feature film as a co-writer, This Place, is set to be released in 2021. Joshua Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and is the editor of the anthology Love After the End. Jonny Appleseed is his first novel.