Books

Jesse Thistle among winners of 2020 Indigenous Voices Awards for memoir From the Ashes

The awards recognize the best in Indigenous literature in seven categories.
Jesse Thistle is the author of From the Ashes. (CBC)

Jesse Thistle was among the winners of the 2020 Indigenous Voices Awards. He won the category of best published prose in English for his memoir From the Ashes.

The annual awards, established in 2017, honour works by emerging Indigenous writers in Canada across eight categories: published prose in French, published prose in English, published poetry in French, published poetry in English, works in an Indigenous language, unpublished prose in English, unpublished poetry in English and works in an alternative format.

This year's winners will receive a total of $30,000.

In From the Ashes, Thistle combines poetry and memoir to chronicle his intimate journey of overcoming addiction and homelessness to become a decorated Indigenous academic.

From the Ashes will be defended by George Canyon on Canada Reads 2020.

He was homeless for 10 years, now he's putting forward solutions

3 years ago
Duration 6:49
Author and scholar Jesse Thistle published an official definition of Indigenous homelessness in Canada after living it.

Michelle Sylliboy and Arielle Twist are sharing the prize for best published poetry in English. Sylliboy was recognized for the collection Kiskajeyi — I Am Ready and Twist for her collection Disintegrate/Dissociate.

Michelle Sylliboy is a Mi'kmaw interdisciplinary artist, poet and author. Her work is about exploring history, culture and identity. Kiskajeyi — I Am Ready is an insightful collection of photography and hieroglyphic poetry. 

Twist is a Halifax-based poet and sex educator, originally from George Gordon First Nation, Sask. CBC Books named Twist a writer to watch in 2019. 

Disintegrate/Dissociate depicts life for an Indigenous trans woman, one dreaming for a hopeful future and a clear path for self-discovery. 

Elaine McArthur won the category of best work in an alternative format for the picture book Elizabeth Dances Pow-wow, which was illustrated by Olha Melnyk.

Cody Caetano won the ward for best unpublished prose in English for excerpts from his memoir Half-Bads in White Regalia. 

Keely Shirt won the award for best unpublished poetry in English for the poem Two Little Foxes, Buttertown Beach, I Will Never be Happier.

Naomi Fontaine won the award for best published prose in French for Shuni — Ce que tu dois savoir, Julie.

Maya Cousineau-Mollen and Marie-Andrée Gill shared the award for best published poetry in French for Bréviaire du matricule 082 and Chauffer le dehors, respectively.

Rene Meshake and Cole Pauls were the recipients for best work in an Indigenous language, for Injichaag: My Soul in Story and Dakwäkãda Warriors.

The 2020 judges were Jordan Abel, Jeannette Armstrong, Joanne Arnott, Francis Langevin, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, Pierrot Ross-Tremblay and Richard Van Camp. 

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