Ivan Coyote wins the 2020 Freedom to Read Award

Coyote is a storyteller, writer and filmmaker. The award annually recognizes creators whose work supports free expression.
Ivan Coyote is the author of Tomboy Survival Guide. (Robin Toma Photography)

Ivan Coyote, who has written more than a dozen books, created four short films and released three albums combining storytelling with music, has won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of their body of work that examines class, gender identity and social justice.

Their titles include the coming-of-age memoir Tomboy Survival Guide, which was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction and was longlisted for Canada Reads 2018, the collaborative book Gender Failureyoung adult story collection One in Every Crowd and the novel Bow Grip.

Their most recent book, Rebent Sinner, is an essay collection from various aspects of Coyote's life: helping younger LGBTQ folks, paying homage to their heroes, dealing with legislation and governments and being part of protests. 

"They have done amazing and long-term work, especially in schools, on the subject of bullying and discussing what it means to be transgender. The contents of their books are, to me, a testament to freedom — not only to read, but for every person to be themselves," said Coyote's nomination.

Over the past two decades, Coyote has performed at storytelling, writers', film, poetry and folk music festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.

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The Freedom to Read Award, presented annually by The Writers' Union of Canada during Freedom to Read Week, recognizes works that support free expression.

Jael Richardson, founder and artistic director of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), won the 2019 award. Other past winners include Gary Geddes, Deborah Campbell, Mohamed Fahmy and Lawrence Hill.

Freedom to Read Week runs Feb. 23-29, 2020.