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Indigenous youth urged to enter contest

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Canada's largest indigenous youth writing and arts contest is accepting applications until March 31.

All Canadians age six to 29 who self-identify as aboriginal are eligible to enter their art or written work into the “Indigenous Arts and Stories” contest and win prizes up to $2,000.

In addition to the cash prize, winners of the contest's older age categories (14-18 and 18-29) will receive an all expenses paid trip to the Governor General's History Awards at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The winners will be presented with a Governor General's History Award themselves, and will take part in the History Makers Gala Dinner.

Bronwyn Graves, manager of the Indigenous Arts and Stories contest, said that in addition to this, winners also receive great exposure for their work, with it often being featured on the “Indigenous Arts and Stories” website as well as established publications and exhibits.

“We have partnerships with magazines where winning pieces have been published and we have arranged various exhibits for the winning art pieces,” said Graves.

Many winners in the past have had a major boost in confidence from winning the awards and it has also led them to further opportunities, she added.

Those who apply for the contest are asked to write about or create a piece of art that in some way reflects on a key moment or theme in indigenous history or culture.

The topic is meant to be broad to try and allow for applicants to expand their creativity and engage in a topic that interests them.

Entries often reflect on current issues, Graves noted.

Some topics that are often written or painted about include missing and murdered indigenous women, the path towards reconciliation, the legacy of residential schools, and indigenous trailblazers or people of significance.

Some pieces are purely fiction and draw on the authors imagination as well. Sometimes traditional myths or stories are reimagined in a new and interesting way.

“Each year I'm always stunned and impressed by the breadth and depth of the creativity out there,” Graves enthused.

The contest is ran by the not-for-profit organization, Historica Canada, and those who would like to send in a piece for the contest can do so by email at ourstory@historicacanada.ca or through their website at our-story.ca.

Artists looking to submit their piece are asked to take a picture of it for their submission, the top 15 will be sent in for further review from the contest's judges.

The art and stories will be assessed for six to eight weeks after the application period closes and a winner will be announced in early June.

The panel of judges features several accomplished indigenous writers and artists.

“The opportunities that are afforded for sending in these submissions are pretty significant,” Graves stated.

"For past authors and artists, it's really been an opportunity for them to improve their work, grow their careers and make their voices heard.

“I would just really encourage any potential authors or artists to take the plunge, and make a piece—even if it's not perfect—and make their voices heard,” she added.

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