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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 campaign begun by Robin Parker, who partnered with the Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA) for the awards’ administration, supplemented by funds raised by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. While Parker set an initial fundraising goal of $10,000 to support emerging Indigenous writers, the grass-roots initiative raised $116,565 in four months. These monies have since been supplemented by further donations from various groups and individuals.
To honour the spirit of the campaign and the generosity of its initial 1,563 donors, the IVAs will be devoted in their inaugural year of 2017 to “Emerging” Indigenous writers, with 5 awards for unpublished work totalling $10,000 and 3 awards for published work totalling $15,000; the results of the 2017 competition will be announced in the Spring of 2018. Subsequent to the 2017 award competition, the IVAs will offer two yearly awards: one for an emerging Indigenous writer and one for an established Indigenous writer. 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 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.