The Blue Metropolis Awards for Excellence in Indigenous Studies are an initiative of Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival and the McConnell Foundation. The awards are presented to two students, one francophone, one anglophone, enrolled in either an Indigenous Studies or Indigenous Literature program, during fall 2019 or winter 2020, in recognition of their outstanding academic performance (excellence, perseverance, creativity and engagement). To be eligible, each candidate must write a short essay in the form of a personal, critical and engaged reflection on issues related to the situation of Canada’s First Peoples. Supported by various documented sources, the essay must answer the following question: “What is the definition of a just society?”.
Sixty-two professors and program directors were contacted in order to let their students know about this Blue Metropolis initiative, such that that eleven candidacies were received from the following six Canadian universities: Concordia University, Université de Montréal, the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, and the University of New Brunswick. Two judges evaluated the essays and delivered their decisions: in English, writer Darrel J. McLeod, winner of a 2018 Governor General’s award for non-fiction; in French, the poet and publisher Rodney Saint-Éloi, who is the founder of the publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, which regularly publishes works by Indigenous authors.
In 2020, the two winning students are:
University of New Brunswick
Regarding his essay, judge Darrel J. McLeod wrote: “In a few paragraphs Peyton was able to establish a clear and compelling voice, to articulate a powerful and clear vision of hope for Indigenous peoples, persuading the reader that there could indeed be a more just life for Indigenous people in Canada if each of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, steps up and does his or her part.” To consult her essay titled “Indigenous Freedom ” .
Émilie Sarah Caravecchia
Université de Montréal
Regarding her essay, judge Rodney St-Éloi wrote: “Fluid, powerful and well-researched, this short essay by d’Emilie Sarah Caravecchia provides a condensed history of Canadian injustice toward the First Peoples. Caravecchia shows the power of the inertia that characterizes the different Canadian governments, from Pierre Trudeau to Justin Trudeau, and the necessity, now. of achieving a decolonial awareness in order to build a more just and egalitarian society in which co-existence between Canadians of European origin and Indigenous people will be possible. To consult her essay titled “Que veut dire une société juste? »” .
The two winning students will each receive a $1,000 prize and have been invited to send us a video in which they will read or talk about their essay. It should be noted that the 2020 edition of Blue Metropolis Festival, which was scheduled to take place May 1 to 6, 2020, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Matthew John Micheal Leblanc – 2019
Matthew John Micheal Leblanc, member of the Natoaganeg Nation and undergraduate student in Nursing at the University of British Columbia, for his essay titled “Understanding the Indian Condition” .
Coline Souilhol – 2019
Coline Souilhol, a master’s student in English Studies at the Université de Montréal, for her essay titled “ La responsabilité du conteur d’histoire face aux perceptions historiques“.
Blue Metropolis First Peoples Literary Prize
Each edition of Blue Metropolis Festival includes an Indigenous Voices series which showcases the richness of this literature and its voices, which invite us to look at the world from a different perspective. These diverse voices contribute to a renewal of the literary landscape and speak of the beauty of life, of its grandeur and fragility. Blue Metropolis Festival is pleased to provide an opportunity for them to be heard. In addition, during each edition of the Festival the Blue Metropolis First Peoples Literary Prize is awarded. The aim of this prize, which was created five years ago, is to increase the national and international visibility of writers from Indigenous communities, be they novelists, non-fiction writers, playwrights or poets. The prize is awarded thanks to the sponsorship of the McConnell Foundation, the Chadha Family Foundation, Concordia University and the Cole Foundation.
For the past four years, the jury has been made up entirely of Indigenous writers, critics and academics. The 2020 jury members are L. Rain Prud’homme-Cranford, Smokii Sumac and David Treuer.
Previous winners of the Blue Metropolis First Peoples Literary Prize
Terese Marie Mailhot – 2019
In 2019, Blue Metropolis awarded the First Peoples Literary Prize to Terese Marie Mailhot, the author of Heart Berries: A Memoir. The award ceremony took place in Montreal, at HOTEL10, on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 1 pm. The prizewinner took part in an onstage interview with CBC host Sonali Karnick, in addition to participating in a number of other events.
Terese Marie Mailhot is originally from Seabird Island, in British Columbia. She received a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, Carve Magazine, The Offing, The Toast and Yellow Medicine Review.
Lee Maracle – 2018
In 2018, Blue Metropolis awarded the First Peoples Literary Prize to author Lee Maracle. The award ceremony took place in Montreal, at the McCord Museum, on Sunday, April 29, at 4 pm. The winner took part in an onstage interview with Métis artist Moe Clark, as well as in several other events.
Lee Maracle is the author of a number of award-winning and critically acclaimed literary works, including Sojourners and Sundogs, Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel, Daughters Are Forever, Will’s Garden, Talking to the Diaspora, My Conversations with Canadians and, more recently, Hope Matters. She is also the co-editor of Telling It: Women and Language Across Cultures. Lee Maracle is published in anthologies and scholarly journals worldwide. She was born in Vancouver and is a member of the Stó:lō Nation.
David Treuer – 2017
In 2017, Blue Metropolis awarded its First Peoples Literary Prize to author David Treuer. The award ceremony took place in Montreal, at the McCord Museum, on Friday, April 28, 2017, at 4 pm. The author participated in an onstage interview with CBC host Duncan McCue.
David Treuer is Ojibwe, from the Leech Lake Reservation, in Northern Minnesota. The author of several novels and works of non-fiction, he has also written for such prestigious publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire and Slate. He has a PhD in Anthropology and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.
Thomas King – 2016
In 2016, Blue Metropolis awarded the First Peoples Literary Prize to Thomas King. The award ceremony took place in Montreal, at McGill University’s Moot Court, on Friday, April 15, 2016, at 5:30 pm. The winner took part in an onstage interview with Rosanna Deerchild, author, poet and host of the CBC Radio program Unreserved.
Thomas King, who is of Cherokee and Greek descent, is a novelist, scriptwriter and photographer. In 2004, he received the Order of Canada. In 2012, his non-fiction book, The Inconvenient Indian, won the National B.C. Non-fiction Award and the Charles Taylor Prize. In 2014, he received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction for Back of the Turtle.
Marie Annharte Baker – 2015
In 2015, Blue Metropolis awarded the First Peoples Literary Award to poet Annharte, for her collection Indigena Awry. The award ceremony took place in Montreal, at HOTEL10, in Salle Godin, on Saturday, April 25, 2015, at 11 am. The winner was interviewed by writer, academic and activist Taiaiake Alfred.
Annharte, also known as Mary Baker, is Anishinaabe (Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Manitoba). In addition to Indigena Awry (2013), she has published three poetry collections, Being on the Moon (1990), Coyote Columbus Cafe, (1995), Exercises in Lip Pointing (2003), and a work of non-fiction, AKA Inendagosekwe (2014).
Thanks to our partners who continue to support us despite Covid-19