News / Toronto

Effort underway to create award for emerging Indigenous writers

Fundraising campaign started as a response to the "Appropriation Prize" controversy.

Indigenous journalist and Red Rising Magazine co-founder Lenard Monkman said the award would encourage more young Indigenous writers to come forward.

Contributed

Indigenous journalist and Red Rising Magazine co-founder Lenard Monkman said the award would encourage more young Indigenous writers to come forward.

When he co-founded the Red Rising Magazine, community organizer and indigenous journalist Lenard Monkman wanted to offer a platform for an accurate reflection of the First Nations communities.

“For far too long our voices have been misappropriated, and our stories have been told from a deficit point of view,” he said. “We have a beautiful culture and beautiful ceremonies, but all you hear is negative stuff in the media.”

An effort currently underway in Toronto to create a literary award recognizing Indigenous voices sounded like music to his ears.

Local lawyer Robin Parker launched an online fundraising campaign this week with the goal of supporting upcoming Indigenous writers. It was partly a response to the ongoing debate over cultural appropriation – which was sparked by an editorial in Write magazine that advocated for the creation of the “appropriation prize.”

In just over two days, Parker’s campaign has raised over $30,000, way beyond her initial goal of $10,000. She says she’s reaching out to Indigenous organizations across the country so they can be the ones who manage the award.

“That would be extremely important in encouraging young Indigenous writers to continue to tell our own stories,” said Monkman, who will moderate a panel discussion on Indigenous Voices Rising next month at the Toronto Reference Library.

Journalists for Human Rights’ executive director Rachel Pulfer called the award initiative the “most positive outcome” from the appropriation controversy. The group works with Indigenous youth across Canada to support emerging journalists, and an award for emerging Indigenous writers is one of their priorities for the next three years’ strategic plan.

“It’s absolutely crucial that we turn the page from this conversation on a theft prize and bring it into celebrating Indigenous voices,” she said, noting the group would be keen to join forces with the new campaign.

“This is a very important piece of the puzzle. Indigenous stories have been insufficiently heard and understood, and it’s essential that any conversation be informed directly by their personal experiences.”

Details:

  • A number of journalism organizations, including the Canadian Journalism Foundation, offer various fellowships to Indigenous youth pursuing writing careers.
  • In wake of the “Appropriation Prize” controversy, the mainstream Canadian media editors who have resigned or been reassigned include Write’s Hal Niedzviecki, Warlus’ Jonathan Kay and CBC National’s Steve Ladurantaye.

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