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Recipients announced for the fourth annual Indigenous Voices Awards

June 21, 2021: Recipients for the fourth annual Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) were announced today, Indigenous Peoples Day. During an online celebration, $39,000 CAD was awarded across nine categories in recognition of exceptional emerging Indigenous writers working in English, French, and Indigenous languages.

“As Co-Chairs of the fourth annual celebrations of the Indigenous Voices Awards, we are thrilled to announce that more writers than ever submitted their work this year, including submissions from eighteen publishers. We are honoured to be able to read and promote the beautiful, complex, gripping, vital work by a new generation of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. At this moment, as we share the names of this year’s awards recipients, this celebration is meant to be an encouragement for all emerging Indigenous writers to keep writing. In this historical moment, your words are more necessary than ever.” — Dr. Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), and settler scholars Dr. Sophie McCall & Dr. Sarah Henzi, Co-chairs, Indigenous Voices Awards

Recipient of $5,000 for Published Prose in English, Fiction:
Nathan Adler (Ojibwe/Jewish, Lac Des Milles Lacs First Nation), Ghost Lake (Kegedonce Press)

“We love these stories! Interconnected horror stories based on traditional Anishinaabeg stories and all set on an eerie reserve aptly named Ghost Lake? Yes please. Every story surprises. An absolute page-turner, deeply engaging horror stories that leave you breathless. The sheer breadth and range of what Adler has accomplished here is impressive.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Jenn Ashton (Squamish), People Like Frank (Tidewater Press);
  • Michelle Good (Cree -- Red Pheasant Cree Nation), Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial);
  • Michael Hutchinson (Cree/Metis, Misipawistik Cree Nation), The Case of the Missing Auntie (Second Story Press);
  • Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty (Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Somba K’e Northwest Territories), Land-Water-Sky / Ndè-Tı-Yat’a (Fernwood Publishing).

Recipient of $5,000 for Published Prose in English, Creative Nonfiction and Life-Writing:
Bevann Fox (Pasqua First Nation), Genocidal Love: A Life After Residential School (University of Regina Press)

“Bevann Fox writes herself through trauma while articulating just how far-reaching the damage of childhood abuse can be. Writing out the pain on scraps of paper helped Myrtle, the central character of this fictionalized autobiography, to cope and to remember, and now Fox’s writing will help others understand the power of early trauma to lure people into what can only be labelled “genocidal love”. And it will also give them hope that they can come through.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane (Anishinaabe), Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance (Orca Book Publishers);
  • Michelle Porter (Métis), Approaching Fire (Breakwater Books). 

Recipient of $2,000 for Unpublished Prose in English:
Amanda Peters (Mi’kmaq/L’nu, Glooscap First Nation), “Waiting for the Long Night Moon”

“From its striking first sentence, this piece draws the reader into a captivating world. This writing is deeply informed by a sense of place, with land taking a role more akin to character than setting, while a compelling family narrative unfolds.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Deanna Marie Jacobson (Iñuvialuit), “Hockey and Hot Chocolate”
  • Troy Sebastian (Ktunaxa), “The Mission”

Recipient of $5000 for Published Poetry in English:
jaye simpson (Oji-Cree Saulteaux, Sapotaweyak Cree Nation), It Was Never Going to Be Okay (Nightwood Editions)

It Was Never Going to Be Okay is an astonishing debut collection of poetry. jaye simpson's work is a deeply heartfelt and powerful love letter to NDN kids in care, trans youth, Indigiqueer kin, and many many more. It Was Never Going to Be Okay is an important book that will continue to resonate for years to come.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Dr Norma Dunning (Padlei Inuit/Nunavut), Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit Identity (Bookland Press);
  • shalan joudry (Mi’kmaw/L’nu), Waking Ground (Gaspereau Press);
  • Tyler Pennock (Cree and Métis), Bones (Brick Books).

Recipient of $2000 for Unpublished Poetry in English:
Samantha Martin-Bird (Peguis First Nation), “the indian (adultery) act & other poems”

“We enjoyed the humour and sharp language in these poems, along with the rumbling rant elements. Skillful blending and celebration of Cree, Ojibwe, English, and of politics, love, resentment. The writing is concise and clear and the voice is strong, with a specific point of view: we’d be happy to read the opinionated works of this poet on any conceivable topic.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Brandi Bird (Peguis First Nation), “Ode to Diabetes”;
  • Erica Violet Lee (Saskatoon and Thunderchild First Nation), “A Manifesto for the Morning and Forever After”;
  • Shaya MacDonald (Mi’kmaq/L’nu, Benoit First Nation), “She Said to Me”.

Recipient of $5000 for Published Prose in French:
Émilie Monnet (Anishinaabe), Okinum (Éditions Les Herbes Rouges)

“Le rêve et la référence à la nature protectrice et reconstructrice sont des moyens de guérison et de réappropriation de soi qu’Émilie Monnet met ici en scène de façon douce et parlante.” (citation des jurés)

TRANSLATION: “Dreams and the protective, revitalizing power of nature bring healing and a reclamation of the self that Émilie Monnet dramatizes in a gentle, vivid manner.”

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Jocelyn Sioui (Wendat), Mononk Jules (Éditions Hannenorak)

Recipient of $5000 for Published Poetry in French: 
Shayne Michael (Wolastoqiyik, Madawaska Maliseet First Nation), Fif et sauvage (Éditions Perce-Neige)

“Dans ce premier recueil fort, Shayne Michael entre en littérature en retournant l’insulte à l’expéditeur. Dans Fif et Sauvage, le poète emprunte tour à tour la posture et la voix du fils, celle de la mère, et ensuite celle de l’amant, afin de rejouer sa naissance, afin d’habiter ce corps, et afin surtout d’affirmer, à l’aide même de ce corps insulté, la souveraineté de ce corps, la sûreté de son désir.” (citation des jurés)

TRANSLATION: “In this strong debut collection, Shayne Michael enters the literary world by sending insults back to the sender. In Fif et Sauvage, the poet takes on the voice by turns of the son, the mother, and the lover, in order to replay his birth, in order to truly inhabit this body, and above all to affirm, precisely through the memory of this insulted body, its sovereignty and the certainty of its desire.”

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Félix Perkins (Huron-Wendat), Boiteur des bois (Éditions Perce-Neige).

Recipient of $5000 for Published Graphic Novels, Comics, and Illustrated Books in any Language:
Brianna Jonnie (Ojibwe), with Nahanni Shingoose (Ojibwe), illustrated by Neal Shannacappo (Nakawe, Rolling River First Nation), If I Go Missing (James Lorimer)

“Brianna Jonnie was just fourteen years old when she wrote an open letter to the Winnipeg Police Service calling out their inaction when Indigenous women and girls go missing. The letter became If I Go Missing, a graphic novel told in searing words and striking images, commanding the police and the media to “do better,” while stealing the heart of the reader with Jonnie’s unique brilliance, her creative intelligence, her tender dreams, and her hopes for her future.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Lisa Boivin (Denesuliné, Deninu K’ue First Nation), I Will See You Again (HighWater Press);
  • Tasha Spillett (Inninewak), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis), From the Roots Up: Surviving the City Vol. 2, (HighWater Press)

Recipient of $5000 for Published Work in an Indigenous Language:
Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit), illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith (Inuit), The Shaman’s Apprentice: Inuktitut (Inhabit Media)

“Zacharias Kunuk, with help from the evocative images by illustrator Megan Kyak-Monteith, retells an Inuit traditional story about a young shaman faced with a daunting task to visit “the One Below” in search of help to heal an ill community member. A wonderful contribution to Inuit storytelling traditions in Inuktitut for all ages.” (Jurors’ citation)

A literary contest that aims to honour the sovereignty of Indigenous creative voices, and support and nurture 
the work of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada, the IVAs have awarded nearly $110,000 to emerging Indigenous writers over the past four years. In an effort to transcend the individualism of prize culture and to encourage community building, all eligible applicants and finalists are invited to participate in mentorship initiatives, designed to cultivate relationships among emerging and established Indigenous writers and to provide practical career and creative support. Mentorship programming for this year’s IVAs was supported by Penguin Random House Canada.

The 2021 IVAs jurors are: Jordan Abel, Joanne Arnott, Carleigh Baker, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Michelle Coupal,  Margery Fee, Marie-Andrée Gill, Francis Langevin, Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek, Katherena Vermette, and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

The 2021 IVAs are administered by co-chairs Dr. Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), with settler scholars Dr. Sophie McCall and Dr. Sarah Henzi of Simon Fraser University.

The Indigenous Voices Awards receives generous support from Pamela Dillon, Penguin Random House Canada, and The Giller Foundation, and the Indigenous Literary Studies Association. In addition, the IVAs chairs gratefully acknowledge support from Scholastic Canada, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the many supporters who have donated to the IVAs crowd-sourced fund over the past four years. Further donations are always welcome and deeply appreciated: please visit IndigenousVoicesAwards.org for more information.

Connect and Share:
Twitter @IndigenousVAs
Facebook @IndigenousVoicesAwards
Instagram @IndigenousVoicesAwards

Read Indigenous! Check out the published works of IVAs jurors, nominees and recipients: indigenousvoicesawards.org/read-indigenous


For images, interviews or more information please contact:
Katie Saunoris, IVAs publicist, katiesaunoris@gmail.com 
Dr. Deanna Reder, IVAs Co-Chair, dhr@sfu.ca 
Visit the Gallery for images & bios.

For Ontario Arts Foundation inquiries:
Bruce Bennett, Executive Director  bbennett@oafdn.ca 

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