Roy Oborne poses with a snow bunting he helped band. The 12-year-old resident of Haines Junction won a national writing competition this week. His book will be published in July. (Submitted/Christine Drinnan) Amy Kenny, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

They say authors should write what they know. At 12, Roy Oborne figured that out on his own. It’s how the Haines Junction resident approached drafting his soon-to-be-published first book.

“My family and I are big bush people and I always thought it would be really cool to have a setting that I really know and really understand and that’s what I decided to go with,” Oborne told the News over the phone on June 22.

That’s when the Ripple Foundation announced that Oborne’s 5,000-word story, One in the Wilderness, won the Kids Write 4 Kids Award.

Ripple is a youth education charity that focuses on creative literacy skills. Its national contest received 669 submissions from across Canada. Oborne and Taym Saffar, an eighth grader from New Brunswick, were the winners. Both will have their stories published online and in print, with the proceeds going toward a charity Oborne and Saffar chose together — the Canadian Cancer Society.

Oborne’s book is about a 12-year old boy named Jordan. On a river trip from Haines Junction with his uncle, a storm overturns their boat and separates the pair. Jordan has to make it to Dawson City alone, with only a handful of supplies and a bear following him.

Oborne says he started the project as an assignment in his sixth grade class at St. Elias School in Haines Junction. The contest was introduced to the class by their teacher, Lee Drummond.

Originally, Oborne’s story was 7,000-words long. Like any good writer, he says he was up until almost midnight on deadline day, slicing 2,000 words from his manuscript to slip in under the maximum word allowance of 5,000.

Winning the award this week, he thought about that night and the work he put into the story. He also thought about the work Drummond and Oborne’s classmates put into encouraging him.

“I really wouldn’t be able to do all this,” he says. “Lots of credit to my teacher for the support I was given.”

“It was a win for the whole community,” says Christine Drinnan, Oborne’s mom.

She says Drummond was amazing in shepherding the class through the experience without placing restrictions on them. She says it puts a spotlight on the Yukon and the quality of education kids are getting here, to be able to win a national contest like Kids Write 4 Kids.

Oborne feels that, too. He says submitting was fun, but felt far-fetched, knowing any Canadian kids Grade 4 to 8 could also apply.

“There were 700 applicants across the country and I knew my story was pretty good, but I was like, ‘There’s so many to pick from,’” he says. “I just thought it was so cool to be from this little town from close to nowhere and win. It’s really special to represent Haines Junction.”

While Oborne hasn’t started on a follow-up yet (he’s currently focused on a swim meet in B.C. this weekend), he does have ideas. He sees himself setting more stories in the Yukon, almost like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series, but he’s not limiting himself.

The thing he likes best about writing are the possibilities, he says.

“There’s endless things you can do with it, setting-wise, story-wise, and I love putting my ideas and stuff onto paper. I think that’s the part I enjoy the most.”

Oborne’s book should be available July 23. For more information, visit

By Amy Kenny, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 26, 2023 at 10:31

This item reprinted with permission from   Yukon News   Whitehorse, Yukon
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