Inaugural 2018 IVA Gala: Mich Cota, Tenille Campbell, Mika Lafond, Smokii Sumac, Treena Chambers, Jean Sioui, JD Kurtness, Richard Van Camp, Aviaq Johnston, Billy Ray Belcourt, Kateri Akiwezie-Damm

Inaugural 2018 IVA Gala: Mich Cota, Tenille Campbell, Mika Lafond, Smokii Sumac, Treena Chambers, Jean Sioui, JD Kurtness, Richard Van Camp, Aviaq Johnston, Billy Ray Belcourt, Kateri Akiwezie-Damm

Finalists announced for the second annual

Indigenous Voices Awards

May 14, 2019 (Vancouver B.C.): Seventeen finalists were announced today for the second annual Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs), administered by Indigenous Literary Studies Association. The IVAs were established in 2017 to support and nurture the work of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. The awards honour the sovereignty of Indigenous creative voices and reject cultural appropriation.

The finalists represent emerging Indigenous voices, both published and unpublished. A total of $14,000.00 (CDN) will be given out to the winners on June 4, 2019. The finalists are recognized in seven distinct categories, reflecting the diversity and complexity of Indigenous literary art:


Lindsay Nixon nîtisânak (Metonymy Press)

Tanya Tagaq, Split Tooth (Viking Canada/Penguin Random House Canada)

Joshua Whitehead, Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press)


Wanda John-Kehewin, Seven Sacred Truths (Talon)

Jules Koostachin, Unearthing of Secrets, Gathering of Truths (Kegedonce)

Smokii Sumac, You are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World (Kegedonce)


Joséphine Bacon, Uiesh, Quelque Part (Mémoire d’encrier)

Pierrot Ross-Tremblay, Nipimanitu (Prise de parole)


Francine Merasty, Iskotew Iskwew


Francine Cunningham, selection from “Teenage Asylums”

Brittany Johnson, “Transit”

Blair Yoxall, “Little Bull”


Craig Commanda, “My Ghosts Roam this Land” and other poems

Elaine McArthur, “Brush of a Bustle”

Autumn Schnell, “FemmNDN Commandments”


Mich Cota, “Wàsakozi”

Tasha Spillett (with Natasha Donovan), “Surviving the City” (HighWater Press)

The IVAs (pronounced EYE-VAHz)


If you were present at the first IVA Gala in Regina on May 2018, you would have heard the clamour and felt the thrill of a talented, high-spirited crowd.  Published and unpublished writers sat shoulder to shoulder. On one side were the poets, glamourous and raucous, laughter that indicated that they were, or were about to become, old friends. On the other side were novelists, engrossed in conversation. Several publishers were present, some who had met in Toronto the previous year for the Indigenous Editing Circle, were going from table to table reacquainting themselves. One unpublished short story writer tucked her and her family upstairs in the balcony where it was quieter, to visit. And literature professors were everywhere, watching, gleeful, as they chatted to one another and kept a shy distance from the literati, who were clearly the stars of the show. A total of $26,000.00 was given to Emerging Indigenous Voices, a mix of published and unpublished authors who are destined to change what we read.

All of this was made possible by your support. A genuine thank you to all of you who have contributed to the Indigenous Voices Awards.

 ILSA and the IVA Directors are excited to announce the second year of the awards, for works published or created in 2018. We are both ambitious, to imagine an award that lasts into perpetuity and cautious, mindful of the current limitations of the fund.

 We invite you to donate to the IVAs by clicking the donate button on the Welcome page of the; you will be directed to the page of the national charitable organization that is holding our funds, the Ontario Arts Foundation, and be asked to select a fund; after you choose the “Indigenous Voices Awards Fund” and donate, a tax receipt will be issued to you.

Thank you.

IVAs Background

The Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) were established in 2017 to support and nurture the work of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. Funds for the awards were raised initially through a crowd-funded campaigns by Robin Parker and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who partnered with the Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA) for the awards’ administration. While an initial fundraising goal of $10,000 to support emerging Indigenous writers was set, the grass-roots initiatives raised $116,565 in four months. These monies have since been supplemented by further donations from various groups and individuals.

The IVAs, in their second year, 2018-19 will be honouring “Emerging” Indigenous writers, with a number of awards for unpublished works and for published works; the results of the 2018 competition will be announced in the Spring of 2019. The dollar amounts for these awards will be determined based on the recommendations of the IVA Board and the amount available in the Trust Fund, with an attentiveness to sustainability.

      The Indigenous Voices Awards aim to support Indigenous literary production in its diversity and complexity, understanding Indigenous literatures to include but not be limited to novels, creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, orality, graphic novels, comics, slam, drama, music lyrics, screenwriting, and other forms. The awards honour the sovereignty of Indigenous creative voices and reject cultural appropriation; to be eligible for the Indigenous Voices Awards, authors must be Indigenous and must make a declaration of Indigenous identity. The awards are intended to support Indigenous artistic communities and to resist the individualism of prize culture. As such, the IVA Board will endeavour to create opportunities for mentorship, professionalization, and creative collaboration among applicants, jurors, and other members of the Indigenous artistic community when possible.

On “Emerging” and “Established” Writer

      While for many people the category of “emerging writer” implies youth, ILSA and the prize committee recognize that there are Indigenous artists of diverse ages who are finding their voice as writers, including many older people and even quite a few elders. Our definition of “emerging” is not focused on age but on the writer’s history of publication. For the purposes of these awards, “emerging” refers to writers who are thus far unpublished or whose substantive publication history is seven years or less and who have published fewer than three books. Writers whose work is outside those parameters but who feel that they should be considered in this competition are asked to provide a brief statement of no more than 300 words on their eligibility. In such cases, the IVA Board will provide final determination of eligibility for the jury to consider. “Established” writers are those with a publishing history of more than seven years or that includes three or more published books (or the equivalent in an alternative format) at the point of submitting materials for the competition.

Les Indigenous Voices Awards (IVA)


Si vous étiez présent lors du Gala de remise des prix du premier concours des IVA à Régina en mai 2018, vous avez certainement entendu les réjouissances et ressenti le bonheur partagé d’un groupe d’artistes extrêmement talentueux. Écrivains émergents et établis, assis côte à côte, ont pris part aux festivités. D’un côté, les poètes, dont les rires indiquaient qu’ils étaient, ou allaient devenir, de grands amis. De l’autre côté, les romanciers, plongés dans leurs conversations d’intrigues. Plusieurs éditeurs étaient présents aussi, dont certains qui s’étaient rencontrés l’année auparavant lors du Indigenous Editors Circle à Toronto, heureux de cette opportunité d’échanger à nouveau. Une écrivaine émergente et sa famille, nichées dans une alcôve au balcon où il faisait plus tranquille, s’échangeaient les dernières nouvelles. Et des professeurs de littérature s’y trouvaient aussi, partout d’ailleurs, jubilants, mais à une distance timide en même temps de ces gens de lettres, car aux yeux de tous, il était clair que c’étaient ces derniers, les grandes vedettes de la soirée. Un total de $ 26'000 a été remis à des voix autochtones émergentes, un mélange d’auteurs publiés et non publiés, dont les œuvres sont destinées à changer la façon dont nous lisons…


Tout cela a été possible grâce à votre soutien. Un grand merci à vous tous qui avez contribué aux Indigenous Voices Awards.


ILSA et les présidents des IVA sont heureux de vous annoncer la 2è édition du concours, visant les œuvres publiées ou créées en 2018. Nous sommes à la fois enjoués et prudents, car bien que nous voulons voir ces prix durer à perpétuité, nous sommes conscients des limites des fonds à disposition.


Nous aimerions donc vous inviter à contribuer aux IVA en cliquant sur le bouton « Donate » que vous trouverez à la page de bienvenue du site Vous serez redirigé vers la page de l’organisme de bienfaisance qui détient nos fonds, la Fondation des arts de l’Ontario, où vous serez invité à sélectionner un fonds; choisissez « Indigenous Voices Awards ». Après avoir fait votre don, un reçu à des fins fiscales vous sera émis.