Ottawa-born Kai Thomas is a farmer, educator, carpenter and writer whose debut novel, In the Upper Country, was published this year to widespread acclaim. Described by The New York Times as β€œa testament to the power of story and a veneration of those whose tales are often forgotten in mainstream media,” the novel tells the intertwined stories of black and indigenous people living in the shadow of slavery in 19th century Canada.

Thomas is Afro-Canadian, descended from Trinidad and the British Isles, and currently works in upstate New York as site coordinator with the Soul Fire Farm, β€œan Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system.”