OAF News

Peter Chin awarded the inaugural Eldred Family Dance Award

Toronto, September 7, 2021 – Peter Chin is the recipient of the inaugural $20,000 Eldred Family Dance Award. This biennial award recognizes exceptional achievement and creative ability in dance by an established Ontario choreographer.

About Peter Chin 
Peter Chin is a multidisciplinary artist born in Jamaica, and based in Toronto and Cambodia. He has been part of the cultural life of Toronto for almost 50 years, starting with singing in Massey Hall in 1972. Peter Chin is the founder and artistic director of dance-driven trans-disciplinary company Tribal Crackling Wind, and co-founder and director of the NKK International Dance Centre in Siem Reap Cambodia. Chin has been described as a renaissance man of the dance world, and is recognized as a composer / musician, choreographer / dancer, designer, writer and filmmaker. His works have received 5 Dora Mavor Moore awards, and many nominations. Chin has also received a Gemini award for his performance in the film ‘Streetcar’ by Nick DePencier. He was also an inaugural winner of the K.M. Hunter Artist Awards - Interdisciplinary Arts category, and has been recognized with the Muriel Sherrin Award, among others.

Chin’s works have been presented across Canada, United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Columbia, Amsterdam, UK, Cambodia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan.

In Ontario, Peter Chin has been proud to have worked with many foundational arts organizations including Toronto Dance Theatre, the National Ballet of Canada, Dancemakers, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Array Music, the Evergreen Contemporary Gamelan Club, Esprit Orchestra, Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre, DanceWorks, CanAsian, as well as many distinguished individual artists and independent companies. He has been honoured with commissions and presentations in Peterborough, Mississauga, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto.

Jury Comments 
The jury was unanimous in their choice of Peter Chin as laureate for the inaugural Eldred Family Dance Award. They said, “Peter’s brilliant choreography shines equally in his work for solo and ensemble. His dances are thoughtful and precise. A multidisciplinary artist, his craftsmanship is demonstrated through his inherent sense of musicality and enriched by his own compositions. Peter’s achievements as an independent artist throughout his artistic journey are prodigious.”

Peter Chin was selected by the following assessment panel:  Rosemary James (Toronto, ON), choreographer, dance instructor and Rehearsal Director at the Toronto Dance Theatre; and Shara Weaver (Gatineau, QC), choreographer, dance instructor and Co-Director at Propeller Dance.

Travel with Tribal Promo Video, Tribal Crackling Wind, 2021.

About the Award
The Eldred Family Dance Award was established at the Ontario Arts Foundation by the late Gerald (Gerry) Eldred, distinguished Canadian arts executive, and the late Marjorie Eldred, former National Ballet School academic teacher. The award recognizes exceptional achievement and creative ability in dance by an established Ontario choreographer. The winner is chosen through a nominating and adjudication process managed by the Ontario Arts Council. 


For more information, please contact:
Bruce Bennett, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | bbennett@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2020-2021, the OAF paid out over $5.1 million in endowment income and $220,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 55 years, the Ontario Arts Council has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts and artists for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2020-2021, the Ontario Arts Council invested $78.6 million in 206 communities across Ontario through 2,176 grants to individual artists and 1,312 grants to organizations.

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2021 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards presented to Heather M. O’Connor, Claudia Dávila and Wesley King

Toronto, June 22, 2021 – The 2021 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today by the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF). 

The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from Admiral Collingwood Elementary School in Collingwood, Ontario.  A jury of grade 4 students selected the recipients of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.

Each student juror read the books individually and then worked with their group to reach consensus and choose a winner - this year, via videoconference. This teamwork-based process reinforces leadership and decision-making skills for the students.

Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category

Fast Friends
by Heather M. O'Connor (Peterborough, Ont.)
illustrations by Claudia Dávila (Toronto, Ont.)
Scholastic Canada Ltd.

About the Book

Tyson does everything fast – so fast he often disrupts the class. Suze, the new girl, is nonverbal with special needs. Sometimes her classmates don’t know what those needs are. But taking the time to interpret her cues, Tyson forms a special friendship with Suze, and teaches his classmates what it means to listen and understand others. Fast Friends emphasizes how two kids with different challenges and strengths find they are just what the other needs to navigate classroom life.

“Tyson and Suze share a love of going fast,” noted the student jury. “Even though Suze uses a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean she wants to go slow. Other people just didn’t see what Suze wanted.”

Every kid dreams of being the hero of the stories they read, but books about differently-abled children are rare," said author Heather M. O'Connor.  "Thank you to the nomination committee for including Fast Friends on this prestigious shortlist and to the jury of young readers for honouring a story in which everyone belongs."

“It’s such an honour to receive this very special award, selected by the most important group of readers there is – children!,” said illustrator Claudia Dávila. “Kids always see in stories and characters what is in the hearts of others, especially when the story is of inclusion and friendship.”

About the Author

Fast Friends is Heather M. O’Connor’s first picture book. She also writes short stories, fantasy and historical fiction, and her first novel, The Betting Game, was published in 2015. This is her first book to be nominated for a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.

About the Illustrator

Claudia Dávila writes, illustrates and designs books for kids of all ages, with stories and themes that encourage children to be strong, thoughtful, compassionate and responsible people. A former art director at Chirp and Chickadee magazines, she also wrote and illustrated the graphic novel series The Future According To Luz. This is her first book to be nominated for a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.

Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category


Sara and the Search for Normal 
by Wesley King (Lake Echo, N.S.)
Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books 

About the Book

Sara wants one thing: to be normal. What she has instead are multiple diagnoses. Sara’s constant battle with False Alarm – what she calls panic attacks – and other episodes cause her to isolate herself. But when she starts group therapy she meets someone new. Talkative and outgoing Erin doesn’t believe in “normal,” and Sara finds herself in unfamiliar territory – in short, with a friend. But there’s more to Erin than her cheerful exterior, and Sara begins to wonder if helping Erin will mean sacrificing their friendship.


“We loved reading about Sara’s heartbreaking, messy life,” said the student jury. “Her story took us on a journey of acceptance, as we learned with her that our differences are part of what make us who we are.”

“I am deeply grateful that Sara's journey connected with the jury,” said Wesley King. “I write for young readers, so it means so much more when they decide on a winner. Thank you to the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Arts Foundation for continuing to administer this wonderful award, and a huge congratulations to the other nominees – it was a fantastic shortlist.”

About the Author
Wesley King is the author of 11 books, including the Vindico series and, with Kobe Bryant, the Wizenard series. Sara and the Search for Normal is a prequel to his novel OCDaniel, which was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award (Young Adult / Middle Reader Award category).

About the Awards 

  • The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters. The awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
  • Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
  • The Ontario Arts Foundation administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, which manages the nomination and jury process.
  • See the full details on the award and the list of previous laureates.


Shoshana Wasser, Senior Communications Coordinator, Ontario Arts Council
416-969-7434/1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434 | swasser@arts.on.ca


Ann Boyd, Director of Administration, Ontario Arts Foundation
416-969-7411 | aboyd@oafdn.ca


The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario.  In 2019-2020, the OAF paid $4.25 million in endowment income and $270,000 in awards and scholarships. 

For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2019-2020, OAC invested $51.9 million in 197 communities across Ontario through 1,965 grants to individual artists and 1,152 grants to organizations.

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Recipients announced for the fourth annual Indigenous Voices Awards

June 21, 2021: Recipients for the fourth annual Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) were announced today, Indigenous Peoples Day. During an online celebration, $39,000 CAD was awarded across nine categories in recognition of exceptional emerging Indigenous writers working in English, French, and Indigenous languages.

“As Co-Chairs of the fourth annual celebrations of the Indigenous Voices Awards, we are thrilled to announce that more writers than ever submitted their work this year, including submissions from eighteen publishers. We are honoured to be able to read and promote the beautiful, complex, gripping, vital work by a new generation of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. At this moment, as we share the names of this year’s awards recipients, this celebration is meant to be an encouragement for all emerging Indigenous writers to keep writing. In this historical moment, your words are more necessary than ever.” — Dr. Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), and settler scholars Dr. Sophie McCall & Dr. Sarah Henzi, Co-chairs, Indigenous Voices Awards

Recipient of $5,000 for Published Prose in English, Fiction:
Nathan Adler (Ojibwe/Jewish, Lac Des Milles Lacs First Nation), Ghost Lake (Kegedonce Press)

“We love these stories! Interconnected horror stories based on traditional Anishinaabeg stories and all set on an eerie reserve aptly named Ghost Lake? Yes please. Every story surprises. An absolute page-turner, deeply engaging horror stories that leave you breathless. The sheer breadth and range of what Adler has accomplished here is impressive.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Jenn Ashton (Squamish), People Like Frank (Tidewater Press);
  • Michelle Good (Cree -- Red Pheasant Cree Nation), Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial);
  • Michael Hutchinson (Cree/Metis, Misipawistik Cree Nation), The Case of the Missing Auntie (Second Story Press);
  • Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty (Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Somba K’e Northwest Territories), Land-Water-Sky / Ndè-Tı-Yat’a (Fernwood Publishing).

Recipient of $5,000 for Published Prose in English, Creative Nonfiction and Life-Writing:
Bevann Fox (Pasqua First Nation), Genocidal Love: A Life After Residential School (University of Regina Press)

“Bevann Fox writes herself through trauma while articulating just how far-reaching the damage of childhood abuse can be. Writing out the pain on scraps of paper helped Myrtle, the central character of this fictionalized autobiography, to cope and to remember, and now Fox’s writing will help others understand the power of early trauma to lure people into what can only be labelled “genocidal love”. And it will also give them hope that they can come through.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane (Anishinaabe), Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance (Orca Book Publishers);
  • Michelle Porter (Métis), Approaching Fire (Breakwater Books). 

Recipient of $2,000 for Unpublished Prose in English:
Amanda Peters (Mi’kmaq/L’nu, Glooscap First Nation), “Waiting for the Long Night Moon”

“From its striking first sentence, this piece draws the reader into a captivating world. This writing is deeply informed by a sense of place, with land taking a role more akin to character than setting, while a compelling family narrative unfolds.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Deanna Marie Jacobson (Iñuvialuit), “Hockey and Hot Chocolate”
  • Troy Sebastian (Ktunaxa), “The Mission”

Recipient of $5000 for Published Poetry in English:
jaye simpson (Oji-Cree Saulteaux, Sapotaweyak Cree Nation), It Was Never Going to Be Okay (Nightwood Editions)

It Was Never Going to Be Okay is an astonishing debut collection of poetry. jaye simpson's work is a deeply heartfelt and powerful love letter to NDN kids in care, trans youth, Indigiqueer kin, and many many more. It Was Never Going to Be Okay is an important book that will continue to resonate for years to come.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Dr Norma Dunning (Padlei Inuit/Nunavut), Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit Identity (Bookland Press);
  • shalan joudry (Mi’kmaw/L’nu), Waking Ground (Gaspereau Press);
  • Tyler Pennock (Cree and Métis), Bones (Brick Books).

Recipient of $2000 for Unpublished Poetry in English:
Samantha Martin-Bird (Peguis First Nation), “the indian (adultery) act & other poems”

“We enjoyed the humour and sharp language in these poems, along with the rumbling rant elements. Skillful blending and celebration of Cree, Ojibwe, English, and of politics, love, resentment. The writing is concise and clear and the voice is strong, with a specific point of view: we’d be happy to read the opinionated works of this poet on any conceivable topic.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Brandi Bird (Peguis First Nation), “Ode to Diabetes”;
  • Erica Violet Lee (Saskatoon and Thunderchild First Nation), “A Manifesto for the Morning and Forever After”;
  • Shaya MacDonald (Mi’kmaq/L’nu, Benoit First Nation), “She Said to Me”.

Recipient of $5000 for Published Prose in French:
Émilie Monnet (Anishinaabe), Okinum (Éditions Les Herbes Rouges)

“Le rêve et la référence à la nature protectrice et reconstructrice sont des moyens de guérison et de réappropriation de soi qu’Émilie Monnet met ici en scène de façon douce et parlante.” (citation des jurés)

TRANSLATION: “Dreams and the protective, revitalizing power of nature bring healing and a reclamation of the self that Émilie Monnet dramatizes in a gentle, vivid manner.”

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Jocelyn Sioui (Wendat), Mononk Jules (Éditions Hannenorak)

Recipient of $5000 for Published Poetry in French: 
Shayne Michael (Wolastoqiyik, Madawaska Maliseet First Nation), Fif et sauvage (Éditions Perce-Neige)

“Dans ce premier recueil fort, Shayne Michael entre en littérature en retournant l’insulte à l’expéditeur. Dans Fif et Sauvage, le poète emprunte tour à tour la posture et la voix du fils, celle de la mère, et ensuite celle de l’amant, afin de rejouer sa naissance, afin d’habiter ce corps, et afin surtout d’affirmer, à l’aide même de ce corps insulté, la souveraineté de ce corps, la sûreté de son désir.” (citation des jurés)

TRANSLATION: “In this strong debut collection, Shayne Michael enters the literary world by sending insults back to the sender. In Fif et Sauvage, the poet takes on the voice by turns of the son, the mother, and the lover, in order to replay his birth, in order to truly inhabit this body, and above all to affirm, precisely through the memory of this insulted body, its sovereignty and the certainty of its desire.”

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Félix Perkins (Huron-Wendat), Boiteur des bois (Éditions Perce-Neige).

Recipient of $5000 for Published Graphic Novels, Comics, and Illustrated Books in any Language:
Brianna Jonnie (Ojibwe), with Nahanni Shingoose (Ojibwe), illustrated by Neal Shannacappo (Nakawe, Rolling River First Nation), If I Go Missing (James Lorimer)

“Brianna Jonnie was just fourteen years old when she wrote an open letter to the Winnipeg Police Service calling out their inaction when Indigenous women and girls go missing. The letter became If I Go Missing, a graphic novel told in searing words and striking images, commanding the police and the media to “do better,” while stealing the heart of the reader with Jonnie’s unique brilliance, her creative intelligence, her tender dreams, and her hopes for her future.” (Jurors’ citation)

Nominees in this category also included:

  • Lisa Boivin (Denesuliné, Deninu K’ue First Nation), I Will See You Again (HighWater Press);
  • Tasha Spillett (Inninewak), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis), From the Roots Up: Surviving the City Vol. 2, (HighWater Press)

Recipient of $5000 for Published Work in an Indigenous Language:
Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit), illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith (Inuit), The Shaman’s Apprentice: Inuktitut (Inhabit Media)

“Zacharias Kunuk, with help from the evocative images by illustrator Megan Kyak-Monteith, retells an Inuit traditional story about a young shaman faced with a daunting task to visit “the One Below” in search of help to heal an ill community member. A wonderful contribution to Inuit storytelling traditions in Inuktitut for all ages.” (Jurors’ citation)

A literary contest that aims to honour the sovereignty of Indigenous creative voices, and support and nurture 
the work of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada, the IVAs have awarded nearly $110,000 to emerging Indigenous writers over the past four years. In an effort to transcend the individualism of prize culture and to encourage community building, all eligible applicants and finalists are invited to participate in mentorship initiatives, designed to cultivate relationships among emerging and established Indigenous writers and to provide practical career and creative support. Mentorship programming for this year’s IVAs was supported by Penguin Random House Canada.

The 2021 IVAs jurors are: Jordan Abel, Joanne Arnott, Carleigh Baker, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Michelle Coupal,  Margery Fee, Marie-Andrée Gill, Francis Langevin, Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek, Katherena Vermette, and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

The 2021 IVAs are administered by co-chairs Dr. Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis), with settler scholars Dr. Sophie McCall and Dr. Sarah Henzi of Simon Fraser University.

The Indigenous Voices Awards receives generous support from Pamela Dillon, Penguin Random House Canada, and The Giller Foundation, and the Indigenous Literary Studies Association. In addition, the IVAs chairs gratefully acknowledge support from Scholastic Canada, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the many supporters who have donated to the IVAs crowd-sourced fund over the past four years. Further donations are always welcome and deeply appreciated: please visit IndigenousVoicesAwards.org for more information.

Connect and Share:
Twitter @IndigenousVAs
Facebook @IndigenousVoicesAwards
Instagram @IndigenousVoicesAwards

Read Indigenous! Check out the published works of IVAs jurors, nominees and recipients: indigenousvoicesawards.org/read-indigenous


For images, interviews or more information please contact:
Katie Saunoris, IVAs publicist, katiesaunoris@gmail.com 
Dr. Deanna Reder, IVAs Co-Chair, dhr@sfu.ca 
Visit the Gallery for images & bios.

For Ontario Arts Foundation inquiries:
Bruce Bennett, Executive Director  bbennett@oafdn.ca 

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