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The Winners of the 2021 Indigenous Voices Awards Have Been Announced!

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

The Indigenous Voices Awards were started in 2017 to celebrate Indigenous authors in lands claimed by Canada. They originally had a fundraising goal of $10,000, but through campaigns led by Robin Parker and Silvia Moreno-Garcia (the author of Mexican Gothic), they raised over $100,000 in four months.

Each year, the prizes and stipends fluctuate based on funds available. This year, they had their highest number of submissions to date and gave away $39,000! Jurors are selected by past executive members of the Indigenous Literary Studies Association, and most are Indigenous. You can check out the 2021 jurors list here, including Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of A History of My Brief Body. Applicants to the awards are eligible if they self-identify as Indigenous and claim affiliation with an Indigenous community.

This year, the gala was held virtually on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day. You can watch the full event below, including authors reading excerpts of their work.

Winners of the 2021 Indigenous Voices Awards

Published Prose in English: Fiction

Ghost Lake cover

Winner: Ghost Lake by Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler

A collection of 13 interrelated stories: one for each of the moons in Ojibwe cosmology. They deal with vengeance, sexuality, survival, romance, and violence, but each story has a connection with the spirit world. This is an atmospheric read set on the northern Ontario reserve of Ghost Lake, and it acts a companion to Adler’s horror novel, Wrist.

Runners up:

Published Prose in English: Creative Nonfiction and Life-Writing

Genocidal Love cover

Winner: Genocidal Love: A Life After Residential School by Bevann Fox

This novel is based on Bevann Fox’s experiences in residential school. (It’s on our list of books to read to learn about residential schools, if you’re looking to educate yourself on this topic.) She describes not only the abuse and struggle of being as residential school, but also the long-term impact, including the re-traumatizing experience of applying for compensation.

Runners up:

Published Graphic Novels, Comics, and Illustrated Books in Any Language

If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie cover

Winner: If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie with Nahanni Shingoose and Neal Shannacappo

The text of this graphic novel comes from a letter 14-year-old Brianna Jonnie wrote to the Winnipeg Chief of Police that went viral and inspired a documentary. In it, Jonnie pleads the police to investigate missing Indigenous women, saying that if she goes missing, don’t “treat me as the Indigenous person I am proud to be.” It’s accompanied by illustrations from Nakawe (Saulteaux) artist Neal Shannacappo, and it includes an author’s note at the back for more content about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.

Runners up:

Published Poetry in English

it was never going to be okay cover

It Was Never Going to Be Okay by jaye simpson

This is a collection of both poetry and prose that explores Indigeneity, queerness, and how they intersect — as well as intergenerational trauma and diaspora. Jay Simpson is a trans woman, and she discusses how these two facets of her identity affect her sense of safety and belonging.

Runners up:

Published Prose in French

Published Poetry in French

Published Work in an Indigenous Language

Unpublished Prose in English

  • Winner: “Waiting for the Long Night Moon” by Amanda Peters
  • “Hockey and Hot Chocolate” by Deanna M. Jacobson
  • “The Mission” by Troy Sebastian

Unpublished Poetry in English

  • Winner: “the indian (adultery) act & other poems” by Samantha Martin-Bird
  • “Ode to Diabetes” by Brandi Bird
  • “A Manifesto for the Morning and Forever After” by Erica Violet Lee
  • “She Said to Me” by Shaya MacDonald

Looking for more? The IVAs also have a list of published work of IVAs winners and nominees 2018–2020 as well as a selection of published work by the 2021 IVAs Jurors.

You can also donate to help keep the Indigenous Voices Awards going!