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Eight Indigenous writers honoured for outstanding unpublished work

The Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) have recently announced the winners for unpublished poetry and prose in English, celebrating the creativity and excellence of emerging Indigenous writers. This year’s honourees are Leah Baptiste, Henry Heavenshield, Sakâw Laboucan, and Kaitlyn Purcell. The winners of the published awards will be revealed on June 21.

The Indigenous Voices Awards were established in 2017 to support and nurture the work of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. For the last 7 years, the IVAs have celebrated and supported Indigenous literary production. The contest recognizes Indigenous writers in Canada and helps them share their work with wider audiences. The IVAs have become an important part of the literary community, having supported over 110 talented Indigenous writers so far. By focusing on Indigenous voices, the awards honour their unique perspectives and promote their creative sovereignty.

This year, all finalists have received a $500 prize and will benefit from editorial support. Additionally, there is an opportunity for their work to be featured in the newly launched digital magazine, “Yarrow.” Co-founded by notable figures such as Jordan Abel, Conor Kerr, Jessica Johns, and Chelsea Novak, Yarrow is dedicated to showcasing premier Indigenous literature in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The magazine not only highlights established and emerging literary talents but also provides a nurturing platform for upcoming editors specializing in Indigenous content.

The following is a list of Indigenous Voices Awards Recipients – Unpublished Poetry

“Coming of Age” by Leah Baptiste (Deline First Nation)

“Nana Bush Trails and Four Others” by Hannah Big Canoe (Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation)

“styrofoam love” by sakâw laboucan (Woodland Cree First Nation)

“On the Threshold, I Taste Lightning” by Jordan Redekop-Jones (mixed Indigenous / Anglo-Indian)

Indigenous Voices Awards Recipients – Unpublished Prose

“Kristopher with a K” by Dennis Allen (Inuvialuit)

“Hungry” by Jenn Ashton (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh)

“Our Rez Anomaly” by Henry Heavyshield (Kainai)

“łuk’é náte” by Kaitlyn Purcell (Smith’s Landing First Nation)

The 2024 IVAs juror panel has Frances Koncan, Emily Riddle, Shelagh Rogers, Smokii Sumac, Jordan Abel, Francis Langevin, and Maya Cousineau Mollen. To date, the Indigenous Voices Awards have awarded $182,000 to emerging Indigenous writers of all ages, working in various genres and languages. Many of the previous IVA finalists in unpublished categories later published their work, including Francine Cunningham, Marie-Andrée Gill, Elaine McArthur, Smokii Sumac, Francine Merasty, Amanda Peters, Cody Caetano, and Brandi Bird. Over 50 works from IVA writers are featured in “Carving Space”, an anthology that gathers together a selection of finalists.

You can support Indigenous Voice Awards through the Ontario Arts Foundation