Books

Tanya Tagaq, Joshua Whitehead among 2019 Indigenous Voices Awards nominees

The Indigenous Voices Awards annually celebrate published and unpublished works of literature by Indigenous artists in Canada across seven categories.
Tanya Tagaq & Joshua Whitehead are among the finalists of the Indigenous Voices Awards. (Katrin Braga, Susan Holzman/CBC)

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq and Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead are among the finalists of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Awards.

The annual awards recognize literature by Indigenous writers in Canada across seven categories: published prose in English, published poetry in English, published works in French, work in an Indigenous language, unpublished prose in English, unpublished poetry in English and works in an alternative format.

The seven winners will each receive $2,000.

Both Tagaq's and Whitehead's novels are finalists in the published prose in English category, alongside Lindsay Nixon's debut memoir, nîtisânak.

Split Toothaward-winning musician Tagaq's first book, follows a young girl's upbringing in 1970s Nunavut, a place of mythic natural wonders as well as addiction and violence. The book was longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is currently a nominee for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Whitehead's novel Jonny Appleseed centres on a self-described "NDN glitter princess" who works as a cybersex worker in the city. Whitehead's first foray into fiction — he previously published the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer — landed him on the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction shortlist, the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and, currently, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Nixon's memoir nîtisânak is a moving portrayal of grief, as the author contends with the loss of their mother and the oppressive conditions of living as an Indigenous person in Canada. Nixon is currently one of three finalists for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ emerging writers.

There are three finalists in the published poetry in English category:

  • Seven Sacred Truths by Wanda John-Kehewin
  • Unearthing of Secrets, Gathering of Truths by Jules Koostachin
  • You are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World by Smokii Sumac

There are two finalists in the published works in French category:

  • Uiesh, Quelque Part by Joséphine Bacon
  • Nipimanitu by Pierrot Ross-Tremblay

There is one finalist in the work in an Indigenous language category:

  • Iskotew Iskwew by Francine Merasty

There are three finalists in the unpublished prose in English category:

  • Selection from Teenage Asylums by Francine Cunningham
  • Transit by Brittany Johnson
  • Little Bull by Blair Yoxall

There are three finalists in the unpublished poetry in English category:

  • My Ghosts Roam this Land and other poems by Craig Commanda
  • Brush of a Bustle by Elaine McArthur
  • FemmNDN Commandments by Autumn Schnell

There are two finalists in the works in an alternative format category:

  • Wàsakozi by Mich Cota
  • Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

The winners will be announced on June 4, 2019 at the First Nations House of Learning in Vancouver, B.C.

The judges include Jordan Abel, Jeannette Armstrong, Joanne Arnott, Warren Cariou, Margery Fee, Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill, Francis Langevin and Jean Sioui.