Amanda Peters: storyteller, teacher, mentor

You might say that author Amanda Peters has taken the long way home. The daughter of a Mi’kmaw father and a settler mother of European descent, Peters was raised in the Annapolis Valley but has lived and worked in Japan, South Korea, England and Scotland.

Her university degrees, from Mount Allison and Dalhousie, are in political science and public administration. She worked for many years in health policy and various administration roles for Health Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and her home community, Glooscap First Nation.


But she was also writing stories. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Grain Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Dalhousie Review, and filling Station magazine. Along the way, she earned a certificate in creative writing from the University of Toronto. She is also a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Now, Peters is back home. In July 2023, she was hired as Associate Professor in the Department of English and Theatre as part of a cluster hire to increase the number of Indigenous and Black scholars at Acadia.

Amanda Peters is also the author of The Berry Pickers, an acclaimed first novel that has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2023 Barnes and Noble Discovery Prize (winner) and the 2023 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Award (finalist). The novel is published in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Remarkably, the story of The Berry Pickers was one that initially she did not want to write. But when her father discovered she was writing stories, he kept urging her to write about the berry pickers – the Mi’kmaw families who would leave the Maritimes for Maine every summer to pick blueberries, including his own family during the 1960s and 70s. Peters and her dad finally took a road trip to Maine in 2017, and he showed her the berry fields and told her stories about those times. And while she was there, the first line of The Berry Pickers came into her head. “I started writing, and the story just kind of unspooled,” she says.


Being able to teach at Acadia is “living the dream,” she adds. “So far, my experience at Acadia has been brilliant. I’ve loved it. I love teaching, it turns out. And the freedom to teach different things than the literary canon – teaching lots of Indigenous women and women of colour. The freedom to do this is lovely, and the English Department has been very supportive.”


In the fall during her first term at Acadia, Peters taught the mandatory course, Writing and Reading Critically. This term, she’s teaching a creative writing workshop. “It’s so much fun, working with people who want to write, and helping them the way other people helped me,” she says. “I’ve been mentored by Stephanie Domet, Christy Ann Conlin – all those amazing women who have helped me, and all my classmates from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hopefully, I can inspire someone else the way they all inspired me.”

The Berry Pickers, published by Harper Perennial, is available in bookstores and online through Amazon and Indigo. Her next book, Waiting for the Long Night Moon, is a collection of short fiction available August 2024 in Canada and January 2025 in the USA.

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