Indigenous Arts & Stories - Competition Guidelines

Competition Guidelines

Indigenous Arts & Stories is on hiatus for the 2019/20 year. Over the last 15 years more than 5500 Indigenous youth have participated, and we’ve loved receiving all of the remarkable stories and art from across the country. Thanks to all those who have participated and to our wonderful jury. There is so much talent out there – explore some of our previous winners on the site.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Tips from the experts

    Advice from author and jury member, Brian Maracle:

    Know what you are talking about. This is a contest about history, native history/culture in particular. If you don’t know your history or culture – really know it – then learn about it. And when you set out to learn, know this: Google doesn’t know everything – especially when it comes to native people. So learn as much as you can about your history and culture from as many sources as you can – especially from people who can give you the flavour and details of an event that you won’t find in Wikipedia. And, if you already know about your history/culture, that’s great. Now go learn more about it.

    When you sit down to write, include the details of an event, a life, a movement that add life and believability to your story. But don’t do it at the last minute. Give yourself time to give the story your best shot. Write it and rewrite it. Sweat blood. Put it away and after a week, look at it and rewrite again. Make sure that the story that’s in your head is the one that’s on paper.

    When you think that you’ve done the best job you can, send it in. But remember that your story will never be perfect. There will always be something you will want to rewrite later. Just know that you did your best at the time. If you’ve done your best, be satisfied. There are many more stories to write.

    Tahsatahsawen! (A Mohawk command roughly translated as “Get going!”)

    Advice from playwright and jury member, Drew Hayden Taylor:

    Yes, it’s easier to not write than write. But it isn’t nearly as much fun. An author is somebody who spends a lot of time thinking about his/her writing, so that other people someday will spend just as much time thinking about his/her writing.

  • What type of art can I submit?

    Submissions can be a variety of media, including painting, drawing, and photography. Photographs of 3-D works that exceed the maximum dimensions, such as sculptures, beadwork, basket weaving, and more, may also be submitted

    Maximum Height x width x depth: 4 feet x 4 feet by 4 inches
    Maximum weight: 25 pounds

  • What type of writing piece can I submit?

    We encourage storytelling of all styles. We’ve had short stories, plays, poetry and screenplays all win top prizes, so tell your story in whichever way you want!

    Need inspiration? Read the work of previous winners to get ideas, or talk to people in your community about your local history.

  • Word count & language restrictions for story entries.

    If you’re between the ages of 6 and 9 or 10 and 13, your submission should be no longer than 1,000 words. If you’re between the ages of 14-18, your submission should be no longer than 1,400 words. Between the ages of 19-29? Stick to below 2,000 words. As Indigenous Arts & Stories is an educational program for young Canadians, we ask that you refrain from including inappropriate or profane language or content in your writing.

  • How do I submit?

    Note: For mail submissions, please be sure to include a completed Participant Submission Form and a 200-400 word author’s or artist’s statement. Please do not send original artwork by mail unless requested by Indigenous Arts & Stories staff.

    Indigenous Arts & Stories
    2 Carlton Street, East Mezzanine Toronto, ON M5B 1J3

  • How many pieces can I submit?

    Participants may submit up to two (2) entries total between writing and art (i.e. one writing piece and one art piece OR two art pieces OR two writing pieces).

  • Disclaimer

    Indigenous Arts & Stories (hereafter called “the competition”) accepts writing and 2-D art submissions from self-identifying status and non-status First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth, which relate to their culture and identity. The winning works of the competition are selected a jury of artists and writers from the Indigenous community based solely on artistic merit. Our youngest categories, ages 6-9 and 10-13, are judged by program staff and the winning pieces are selected by our funders.

    Winning works and other submitted works are published on the Historica Canada website and in other public forums including but not limited to social media, press releases, print posters, physical exhibitions or other publications. The display of these works does not constitute an endorsement of the subject matter of the artistic pieces in question by Historica Canada but rather the neutral presentation of our contest winners based solely on artistic merit. The views expressed by the artists and writers featured here are solely those of the contributor and do not in any way represent the views of Historica Canada. Historica Canada, as a non-profit organization with a strict mandate of non-partisanship, does not endorse, support or comment upon any partisan interpretation of the winning art by any third party or the artist. For more information about the competition’s judging procedures, please write