The 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 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 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 voices 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 For the purposes of these awards, “emerging” refers to writers who are thus far unpublished or who have published three books or fewer.
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.