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Young Aboriginal Writers and Artists Are Invited to Strut Their Stuff

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Have a story to tell about your aboriginal heritage, young Canadians? If so, the Historica-Dominion Institute is looking for your writing, and for the first time this year, your art.

The Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, in its seventh year, encourages Métis, First Nations and Inuit youth between ages 14–29 (one category each for 14–18 and a second for ages 19–29) to write a short story or create a piece of two-dimensional art “about a defining moment in aboriginal history,” the institute says on its website. Judges are a team of “esteemed aboriginal authors, artists and leaders.”

Art was added this year because “how you interpret a moment in art is much different than you do in writing,” said Jeremy Diamond, director of development and programs for the Historica-Dominion Institute, to the Prince Albert Daily Herald. He added that the institute wanted to give people a different way to tell a story.

Art submissions can comprise a variety of media, the institute says, including painting, sketching, charcoal and photography.

“We hope to expand the contest in future years to three-dimensional art,” the website says.

Writing applicants should create a short story exploring a moment or theme in aboriginal history, the site says. “Your subject should be tied to Canada’s past and/or your ancestral history. It can date as far back as a traditional legend or as recently as yesterday! We encourage you to be creative in your choice of writing styles.”

Top winners in the annual contest will receive a $2,000 prize, with $1,000 and $500 second- and third-place prizes.

Winners also receive an all-expenses paid trip for two to a major Canadian city to receive his or her award at a special reception with a group of esteemed Aboriginal leaders and authors. Writing winners will have an excerpt from his or her story published in Canada’s History magazine, the institute says. In addition, the stories of all top 10 writing finalists in each age category will be published on the contest website, and each of them will get a copy of Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past (Doubleday Canada, 2004).

Winning artists will be able to exhibit their artwork in a Canadian gallery, and their work will be showcased on the institute's website.

Group entries of 10 or more individual submissions are eligible for a special classroom prize, the site says. The deadline is March 31.