Celebrating Indigenous Creators

The National Media Awards Foundation showcased the most impactful work published in Canadian periodicals in 2020 at the 2021 National Magazine Awards Winners Celebration on June 11. 

For National Indigenous History Month, the NMAF is highlighting the exceptional work of the Indigenous creators who received awards and nominations this year.

Issue Grand Prix 

In the Issue Grand Prix category, the Gold winner was The Land Back Issue, published in Briarpatch, by Nickita Longman, Emily Riddle, and Alex Wilson (with editor Saima Desai). In reference to the issue, the creators wrote the following: “‘Land Back’ is the demand to rightfully return colonized land – like that in so-called Canada – to Indigenous Peoples. But when we say “Land Back” we aren’t asking for just the ground, or for a piece of paper that allows us to tear up and pollute the earth. We want the system that is land to be alive so that it can perpetuate itself, and perpetuate us as an extension of itself. That’s what we want back: our place in keeping land alive and spiritually connected.”

Also receiving Honourable Mention in the Issue Grand Prix category was Technology in a Changing Climate, published in Root & STEM, by the Pinnguaq Association. The Pinnguaq Association, a not-for-profit organization, incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health, wellness, and growth with rural and remote communities. At its core, Pinnguaq embraces diversity and creates opportunities in order to empower all people. Jerry Kobalenko, Dez Loreen, Courtney Milne, Jack Hoggarth, and Shirley Tagalik were among the contributors to this issue.

Personal Journalism

Joshua Whitehead received Gold in the Personal Journalism category for “Who Names the Rez Dog Rez?,” published in The Malahat Review. Joshua was also was nominated in the same category for their story, “A Geography of Queer Woundings,” for Grain Magazine. Joshua is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). Their work has been published in Prairie Fire, CV2, EVENT, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead, Grain, CNQ, Write, and Red Rising Magazine.

Also receiving Honourable Mention were Antoine Mountain and Raymond Yakeleya for “Our Life, Our Land, Our Voice,” published in Up Here Magazine.

Antoine Mountain is Dene, North American First Nations, originally from Rádeyı̨lı̨kóé (Fort Good Hope) in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Raymond Yakeleya, a Dené filmmaker from Tulita, Northwest Territories, has produced award-winning programs for Bravo, APTN, PBS and other broadcasters through their Edmonton-based company, the Earth Magic Media Group.


In the Essays category, Alicia Elliott received Honourable Mention for “Still Up in the Air,” published in Chatelaine. Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River. Their writing has been published by The Toast, Room, Grain, The New Quarterly, The Globe and Mail, Vice, Maclean’s, Maisonneuve, CBC Books, and many others. Alicia has had essays nominated for National Magazine Awards multiple times, winning Gold in 2017.

Best Editorial Package

The Gold Winner for the Best Editorial Package was Threads, published by Inuit Art Quarterly. Napatsi Folger, John Geoghegan, Emily Henderson, Susan Kaplan, Genevieve LeMoine, Michael Stevens, Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Myra Kukiiyaut, Matt Hoffman, Elizabeth Qulaut contributed to the issue.

The publication also received Honourable Mention in the same category for their Painting and Relations issues.

One of a Kind Storytelling

Richard Van Camp (Comic, Writer) and Kyle Charles (Comic, Illustrator) received an Honourable Mention in the category of One a Kind Storytelling for their piece “Our Grandpa’s Story: Pierre Washie,” published in Root & STEM.

Richard Van Camp is a Dogrib Tłı̨chǫ writer of the Dene nation from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. Richard is best known for their 1996 novel The Lesser Blessed, which was adapted into a film by director Anita Doron in 2012.

Kyle Charles is a writer and illustrator living in Edmonton, Alberta. They have drawn for several series including Roche Limit: Clandestiny and Her Infernal Descent. Kyle has also written and illustrated short stories for publishers like Heavy Metal and OnSpec Magazine. Kyle is a member of Whitefish Lake First Nation.

Investigative Reporting 

In the Investigative Reporting category, The New Lobster Wars, written by Zoe Tennant for The Walrus, received an Honourable Mention. Marcus Gosse was a contributing artist to the story. Gosse is a Newfoundland Mi’kmaq Artist represented by The Leyton Gallery of Fine Art, and a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band in Newfoundland. The New Lobster Wars also received Honourable Mention in the category of Long-Form Feature Writing: 6000+.

Portrait Photography

Meet the people saving Canada’s native grasslands,” published by The Narwhal and with photos by Amber Bracken received Honourable Mention for Portrait Photography.

Stephanie Wood was a contributor to the story. Steph Kwetásel’wet Wood is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh journalist living and writing in North Vancouver. In 2020, Steph was nominated for the Emerging Indigenous Journalist award by the Canadian Association of Journalists.


Emily Riddle took home Silver in Poetry for “Louise,” published in PRISM International. Emily also received an Honourable Mention for “Cree Girl Explodes the Political Project Called “Alberta,” published in Room. Emily Riddle is nehiyaw, a member of the Alexander First Nation in Treaty 6 territory. Emily grew up in and is currently based in Edmonton. They are currently the Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations for the Edmonton Public Library and was named Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation in 2019. Their writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Teen Vogue, Vice, and other publications. 

Matthew James Weigel also received an Honourable Mention for “CPR Advertisements of a Populated Landscape / on the boundaries of treaty no. 6,” published in Arc Poetry Magazine. Matthew is an award winning Dënësųłinë́ & Métis writer creating in Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Long-Form Feature Writing: 6000+

Julian Brave NoiseCat received an Honourable Mention in the Long-Form Feature Writing: 6000+ category for “Promised Lands,” published in Canadian Geographic. Julian is a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen and a descendant of the Lil’Wat Nation of Mount Currie. Their journalism has been recognized by the judges of the Livingston Award as well as the Mirror Awards, and by the NMAF in both the National Magazine Awards and the Digital Publishing Awards.

Grand Prix: Best Magazine Awards

Inuit Art Quarterly received an Honourable Mention for Best Magazine: Art, Literary and Culture.

Tusaayaksat Magazine received an Honourable Mention for Best Magazine: Special Interest.

Cross-Programming Categories

Also worth noting was “Amachewespimawin: Shooting for the Cree way of life,” by CBC Saskatchewan, which received Honourable Mention for Best Online Video: Mini-Doc.

Congratulations to all of the creators!

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