National Art and Writing Contest for Indigenous Youth: Deadline March 31, 2017

(ANNews) – The Aboriginal Arts & Stories contest encourages Canadian youth and young adults of Aboriginal ancestry – status, non-status, Inuit or Métis – to showcase their artistic and writing talents on the national stage.  Presented by Historica Canada, the competition invites Indigenous youth ages 9 to 29 to submit written work or visual art exploring aspects of Indigenous history and/or culture. The contest is open until March 31, 2017.

Each year, Aboriginal Arts & Stories receives hundreds of entries from young Indigenous writers and artists across Canada who share their voices and their creativity with the nation.  These entries are judged by a jury of accomplished Indigenous authors, artists and community leaders who select the winning submissions, including acclaimed writers Lee Maracle, Drew Hayden-Taylor and Rachel A. Qitsualik, and artists Ryan Rice and Maxine Noel. 

The Aboriginal Arts & Stories contest is divided into three age categories:  9 – 13, 14 – 18 and 19 – 29. First place winners in the two older age categories in both arts and writing will receive $2000 each.  The senior winners (19-29) also win a week-long writers’ residency at The Banff Centre (writing winner) and a professional development experience at the Ontario College of Art and Design’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program (arts winner).

2016 Senior Art Winner / !st Place, Maskihkiwiwat” by Kecia Cook (Regina, SK), Misipawistik Cree Nation, Age 23.

Second place finalists in age categories 14-18 and 19-29 will receive a cash prize of $1000, and third place finalists will receive $500.  All ranked finalists win cash prizes in both age categories. One Emerging Artist and one Emerging Writer will be selected in the age 9-13 category, and the winners will each receive a cash prize of $100.

Aboriginal Arts & Stories accepts submissions on a wide variety of subjects. Past entries have addressed themes of cultural identity, history and myth, spirituality, language loss and revitalization, the environment, family, and residential schools. Read an excerpt from our 2016 senior writing winner, Joshua Whitehead of Peguis First Nation entry entitled, ‘mihkokwaniy’:   


when i visit your grave in Saskatoon

i see the face of kozaruk on the prairie scene,

fatteninginsuburbia & here you are

with a rag-tag little monument made of sticks & leaves

stems from jackrabbits

that seem to visit often

a little blue ribbon

god knows from who

& a sad little brown boy


In his statement, Joshua explains, “I wrote this piece in commemoration of the kokum I never met who was murdered in the sixties. The poem is an act of what Gerald Vizenor calls, survivance. It is survival and it is resistance; it is bringing the historical into the present to disrupt the everyday. I want people to stop, think, and know that this is a historical reality that continues today. This poem is for all MMIWG2S peoples.”

Read the full piece here.

2016 Senior Art Winner / 3rd Place “Vanished” by Melissa Johns (Burlington, ON) Upper Cayuga, Age 22.

Written submissions can be in any format, within the word limits of the age category. Art can take any form, but it must be two-dimensional.  For the full rules and regulations, please visit

Aboriginal Arts & Stories is a program of Historica Canada, the country’s largest organization dedicated to enhancing awareness of Canada’s history and citizenship. For more information, visit  The Aboriginal Arts & Stories contest is funded by The Canadian Government, TD Bank, Canada’s History magazine, the Indigenous Visual Culture Program at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, The Banff Centre, and media sponsor Aboriginal Link.


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