The annual awards ceremony for Historica Canada’s Aboriginal Arts & Stories competition brings together First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth from across the country in celebration of their rich and distinct histories and cultures. The goal of Aboriginal Arts & Stories is to encourage Aboriginal youth, ages eleven to twenty-nine, to creatively explore their heritage through literary and visual arts. The stories and art pieces submitted to the contest touch upon topics of national importance, like the tragic and ongoing legacy of residential schools, or the rediscovery of traditional knowledge and practices, while other works present distinct stories from individual communities and families. The writing and artwork of all finalists is published on the Aboriginal Arts & Stories website. Each year, first place winners receive $2,000 and a trip to the awards ceremony, which is held in a difference Canadian city each year. To date, more than 2,000 inspiring submissions have been received.
This year marked the tenth anniversary of the program, culminating in an awards ceremony and exhibition on June 3 at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Winners were selected from a record 420 submissions from across Canada. First place writing awards went to Aviaq Johnston (21) of Iqaluit, Nunavut for her piece entitled ‘Tarnikuluk’, and Andrea Lanouette (16), of Surrey, British Columbia, for her piece entitled ‘Tears’. First place arts awards went to Nicole Paul (22) of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan for ‘Keeper of the Voice’, and Mercedes Sandy (18), of Christian Island, Ontario, for her ‘Queen Over Democracy’ collage. This year, the program also introduced the Enbridge Emerging Writer and Emerging Artist category for youth between 11 and 13 years of age. The Enbridge Emerging Writer award went to Dorothea Assin (13) of Kenora, Ontario for ‘My Life’, and the Emerging Artist award went to Emlyn Cameron (11) of Atikokan, Ontario for ‘We Are One’.
The milestone tenth anniversary occasion offered a unique opportunity to unite this new generation of Aboriginal writers and artists with those who have helped pave the way. This latter group was composed of notable Aboriginal writers and artists from Aboriginal Arts & Stories jury, including Drew Harden Taylor, Lee Maracle, Brian Maracle, Maxine Noel and John Kim Bell, who all took part in the evening’s celebration. Hosted by well-known Aboriginal actor, Nathaniel Arcand, the reception also featured a retrospective video showcasing winners from past years, accompanied by a special tenth anniversary booklet created through a partnership with through a partnership with Historica Canada, the Walrus Foundation, and Enbridge, Inc. The booklet will be featured in the print and tablet editions of the September issue of The Walrus magazine, as well as the August/September issue of Canada’s History magazine.
Presented by long-time program sponsor Enbridge Inc., Aboriginal Arts & Stories is a program of Historica Canada. Supporting sponsors include, TD Bank Group, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and Canada’s History magazine. Media Sponsors include The Walrus and Aboriginal Link. The collection of inspiring writing and artwork from more than 100 winners over the past decade is available at www.our-story.ca.
Historica Canada is the largest charitable organization dedicated to Canadian history, identity and citizenship. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada.
At the close of another year of the contest – the most successful edition to date – Historica Canada is proud to celebrate all the contest winners and participants, and continue to encourage new groups of talented youth to participate throughout the next decade.
President, Historica Canada