OAF News

Recipients announced for the third annual Indigenous Voices Awards

June 21, 2020: Jesse Thistle, Arielle Twist, Michelle Sylliboy, and Elaine McArthur were among this year’s Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) recipients announced during an online gala hosted by past IVAs recipient Smokii Sumac. Including this year’s combined prize money of $30,000 (CAD), the IVAs have awarded a total of $70,000 over the past three years to Indigenous writers for published and unpublished writing in a variety of genres and in English, French, and Indigenous languages. A recording of the gala is available now on the IVAs social channels.

Awards have been offered in at least seven different categories each year, in efforts to transcend the individualism of prize culture and to encourage community building. All 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. 

The third annual Indigenous Voices Awards were administered by the Indigenous Literary Studies Association, a scholarly body based in lands claimed by Canada that focuses on the teaching and study of Indigenous peoples’ literatures. 

IVAs finalists this year were recognized in eight distinct categories, reflecting the diversity and complexity of Indigenous literary art.  

2020 Recipient: Naomi Fontaine, Shuni — Ce que tu dois savoir, Julie (Mémoire d’encrier)
2020 Nominee: J.D. Kurtness, Aquariums (L’instant même) 

2020 Recipient: Jesse Thistle, From the Ashes (Simon & Schuster)
2020 Nominees: Helen Knott, In My Own Moccasins (University of Regina Press); Kaitlyn Purcell, ʔbédayine (Metatron Press) 

2020 Recipients:
Maya Cousineau-Mollen, Bréviaire du matricule 082 (Éditions Hannenorak)
Marie-Andrée Gill, Chauffer le dehors (La peuplade) 

2020 Recipients:
• Michelle Sylliboy, Kiskajeyi—I am Ready (Rebel Mountain)
• Arielle Twist, Disintegrate/Dissociate (Arsenal Pulp Press)

2020 Nominees: Brandi Bird, I Am Still Too Much (Rahila’s Ghost Press); Francine Cunningham, On/Me (Caitlin Press) 

2020 Recipients:
Rene Meshake, Injichaag: My Soul in Story (University of Manitoba Press)
• Cole Pauls, Dakwäkãda Warriors (Conundrum)

2020 Recipient: Cody Caetano, Excerpts from “Half-Bads in White Regalia”
2020 Nominees: Treena Chambers, “Forest Fires and Falling Stars”; Steven Hall, “Gatzi Naka” 

2020 Recipient: Keely Shirt, “Two Little Foxes, Buttertown Beach, I Will Never be Happier” 
2020 Nominees: David Agecoutay, “Willow A Quartet”; Corri Daniels, “A Memory of Mary”

2020 Recipient: Elaine McArthur, Elizabeth Dances Pow-wow (Independently published)
2020 Nominee: Phyllis Webstad, Phyllis’s Orange Shirt (Medicine Wheel Education)

This year’s IVAs jurors are acclaimed and award-winning writers themselves: Jordan Abel; Jeannette Armstrong; Joanne Arnott; Francis Langevin; Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley; Pierrot Ross-Tremblay; and Richard Van Camp

The Indigenous Literary Studies Association acknowledges IVAs support from: Penguin Random House Canada; Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA); Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF); Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival; Pamela Dillon; Sylvia Moreno-Garcia; Robin Parker; and the countless supporters who have donated to the IVAs crowd-sourced fund over the past three 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 nominees and recipients: indigenousvoicesawards.org/read-indigenous 

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Katie Saunoris, publicist, katiesaunoris@gmail.com 
Deanna Reder, IVAs Co-Chair, dhr@sfu.ca 


Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca

Sean Mulcahy honoured with the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design

Toronto, June 17, 2020 – Toronto-based set and costume designer Sean Mulcahy is the 2020 recipient of the $20,000 Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design.  The award is given annually to a professional costume designer in Ontario in mid-career to further enrich their career.

About Sean Mulcahy

Sean is a Toronto based designer whose work has been seen across North America, including at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Rainbow Stage, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Drayton Entertainment, Obsidian Theatre Company, Canadian Stage, Harold Green Jewish Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse and Neptune Theatre. He was an assistant designer at the Stratford Festival for seven seasons and the inaugural designer for Es Artes, the Stratford Suchitoto Project.

He has been awarded a Guthrie and the Tom Patterson Award (Stratford Festival) and received three Robert Merritt awards (8 nominations, Theatre Nova Scotia). He received best Group Costume Design (Pride Toronto) and was shortlisted for the 2011 Pauline McGibbon Award.

Sean is a graduate of York University’s Theatre Production and Design program (BFA Honours), and holds a PGCert. in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. He is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and a Design instructor at Ryerson University, Chang School for Continuing Education.

I am humbled to be this year’s laureate and must acknowledge the craftspeople who help me bring my garments to life, the performers who inhabit each character and feel emboldened by their costume and every director who has given me the opportunity to contribute to the creative vision, particularly those who gave me a bit of unbridled freedom and trust


Sean Mulcahy was selected by a jury comprising Andrea Donaldson, Artistic Director, Nightwood Theatre (Toronto), Julia Kim, emerging set and costume designer (Toronto), and Gillian Gallow, 2018 Cooper laureate, set and costume designer (Toronto).

The jury was unanimous in their choice of Sean Mulcahy as the 2020 laureate, stating, "Sean's work is bold and original. He has a strong sense of texture which he uses to help animate the characters."

“Bend It Like Beckham, The Musical”. Starvox Entertainment. 2019. Blyth Jandoo with Paul Almeida. LX Jason Hand. Photo by Seanna Kennedy.

About the Award

Established through a generous gift under the will of Dr. Virginia Cooper, the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award is to be given "For the Love of Creation".  Dr. Cooper served as a director of the Tarragon Theatre, and was a charter member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and active in its activities.  She had a keen interest in the performing arts, particularly in costume design. 

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the award, and the Ontario Arts Council manages the nomination and adjudication process.

Previous award winners include:  Joanna Yu (2019), Gillian Gallow (2018) and Tamara Marie Kucheran (2017).   See the full list of previous recipients here.


For more information, please contact:
Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2019-2020, the OAF paid out over $4.25 million in endowment income and $270,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 50 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 2018-2019, the Ontario Arts Council invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

Ce document existe également en français.

Artist Alex Bierk awarded the Laura Ciruls Painting Award

Toronto, June 10, 2020 - Peterborough artist, Alex Bierk is this year’s recipient of the Laura Ciruls Painting Award. The $5,000 award is given annually to recognize an Ontario based mid-career painter.

About Alex Bierk

Alex Bierk has presented his works internationally in exhibitions in Copenhagen, Paris and Stockholm, as well as at numerous art fairs including UNTITLED (New York), Art Toronto, Scope (Miami), Papier 14 (Montreal) and Art Southampton. His work is held in the collections of the Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank and the Art Gallery of Peterborough along with many private collections. In 2013, he was a finalist for the Kingston Prize, a national biannual portrait competition, and is the recipient of grants from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts. Articles on Bierk’s exhibitions have been featured in The Toronto Star, Canadian Art Magazine and Border Crossings magazine. Alex Bierk lives and works in Peterborough, Ontario.

Bierk’s labour-intensive works combine personal history with wider economic and social contexts, resulting in paintings that express the complexities of emotional and lived realities.

About the Award

The Laura Ciruls Painting Award was established by Laura Ciruls, a professional graphic and web designer, as well as an acrylic and watercolour painter. Through a bequest, Laura set up the Laura Ciruls Painting Award, to recognize artists like herself, who were contributing to the development of painting in Ontario.

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the award. The Ontario Arts Council is responsible for the selection process. The award recipient is selected through the Ontario Arts Council’s peer assessment process from the applicants to one of the two annual Ontario Arts Council Visual Arts Creation Projects (Mid-career category) program deadlines.

Previous award winners include Daniel Hutchinson (2018), Dorian FitzGerald (2017), and Steven Volpe (2016). See the full list of previous recipients.

"Davy, looking up”, oil on linen, over wood panel, 9 x 12 inches, 2018


 For more information, please contact:

Alan Walker
Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation
Tel: (416) 969-7413

 Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2019-2020, the OAF paid over $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 2018-2019 the Ontario Arts Council invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations. 

 Ce document existe ègalement en français.


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