Tanya Tagaq and seven other writers take home prizes at Indigenous Voices Awards

VANCOUVER — Inuit throat singer and author Tanya Tagaq was among the winners at the second annual Indigenous Voices Awards.

The IVAs handed out a total of $16,000 in honours to eight emerging Indigenous writers at a Vancouver gala on Tuesday.

The prizes, each worth $2,000, recognize published and unpublished works in a range of languages, genres and media.

Tagaq won the award for prose published in English for her debut novel “Split Tooth” (Viking Canada).

Smokii Sumac, a two-spirit member of the Ktunaxa nation, earned the accolade for English-language published poetry with “You are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World” (Kegedonce Press).

The two finalists for works published in French were both named as winners: Josephine Bacon’s “Uiesh, Quelque Part” (Memoire d’encrier) and Pierrot Ross-Tremblay’s “Nipimanitu – L’esprit de l’eau.”

Francine Merasty’s “Iskotew Iskwew,” the sole contender for the prize for works in an Indigenous language, was also honoured.

The award for works in an alternative format went to the graphic novel “Surviving the City” (HighWater Press) by Tasha Spillett, with illustrations by Natasha Donovan.

For English-language unpublished works, Francine Cunningham prevailed in the prose category with a selection from “Teenage Asylums,” and Elaine McArthur was the poetry winner for “Brush of a Bustle.”

This year’s 17 finalists were selected by jurors Jordan Abel, Jeannette Armstrong, Joanne Arnott, Warren Cariou, Margery Fee, Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Francis Langevin and Jean Sioui.

The IVAs were founded in 2017 to celebrate Indigenous literary talent and create opportunities for up-and-coming writers.

The initiative began as a $140,000 fundraising campaign launched in response to online controversy over a proposal to establish a prize for cultural appropriation in Canadian literature.

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