This year the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge celebrates seven years of supporting new and emerging young Indigenous talent across the country. The Challenge was established in 2005 to highlight the successful publication of Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past, collection of short fictional stories about defining moments in Aboriginal history from nine of the nation’s leading Aboriginal authors. Since 2005, more than 1,000 Aboriginal writers from every province and territory in Canada have submitted essays to the contest, helping the Challenge grow to become the largest and most recognizable essay writing competition in Canada for Aboriginal youth.
“Young indigenous voices from across Canada dazzled last year,” commented Joseph Boyden, bestselling Metis author and member of this year’s Challenge Jury and Advisory Committee. “We believe that this important contest will continue to discover more and more talented Aboriginal youth.”
The Challenge is sponsored by Enbridge Inc. and The Historica-Dominion Institute, and independent organization dedicated to sharing knowledge and building a wider and greater appreciation of the various histories, heritage and stories of Canada.
“Enbridge is extremely proud to partner with The Historica-Dominion Institute for the seventh Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge – this year expanding to become the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge,” said Dan O’Grady, National Manager, Community Partnerships & Investment, Enbridge Inc. “By expanding the Challenge to include the arts, we hope to reach a new audience of Aboriginal youth, offering them an important opportunity to share their artistic expressions with the rest of Canada and help foster an ongoing understanding of Aboriginal culture.”
The Challenge is also supported by a number of honorary patrons, including Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Mary Simon, Métis Nation President Clément Chartier, The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and John Kim Bell, founder of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation.
“I am honoured to act as an Honorary Patron of the project,” remarked Assembly of First Nation National Chief Shawn Atleo, “and extremely proud of all who use the Challenge as a way to make meaning of events that are significant to all Canadians.”
Stories and artwork will be assessed by two impressive juries made up of some of Canada’s most celebrated Aboriginal leaders, writers and artists, including Anishaebae playwright and author Drew Hayden Taylor, Inuit author Rachel A. Qitsualik,, Cree artist Kent Monkman, and Oglala Sioux artist Maxine Noel.
“The Institute hopes to inspire a new generation of Aboriginal voices to share their stories and artistic expressions with Canada through the expanded Challenge this year,” offered Jeremy Diamond, Director of Development and Programs, at The Historica-Dominion Institute’s National Office. “We look forward to receiving wonderful and creative submissions, both writing and visuals arts, and celebrating another year of Aboriginal achievement.
Aboriginal youth between the ages of 14-29 are encouraged to contribute their own personal exploration of an aspect of Aboriginal history through the literary and visual arts by March 31, 2011. All participants have a chance to earn national recognition and win up to two thousand dollars in cash prizes, as well as a trip for two to Toronto for a special awards ceremony attended by Aboriginal leaders, writers and artists.
For more information on this year’s Challenge and guidelines for submission, visit the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge website, www.our-story.ca, or call 1-866-701-1867.
Published in the West Quebec Post January 15, 2011.