CBC reports graphic novel “Surviving the City” has been named Best Work in an Alternative Format at this year’s Indigenous Voice Awards, which recognize the best in First Nations literature. “Surviving the City,” written by Tasha Spillett with art by Natasha Donovan and published last year by Highwater Press, depicts the trials and tribulations of two girls (one Anishinaabe, the other Inninew) growing up in a Canadian city. It beat out the only other nominee in the category, “Wàsakozi,” a song by Algonquin artist Mich Cota.
The book marked the comic book debut of Spillett, a Nehiyaw Cree educator, poet and scholar of Trinidadian descent, who recently won the Indigenous Writer of the Year Award from the Manitoba Editors’ Association. Donovan is a freelance illustrator and a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia, who previous credits include Highwater’s graphic anthology book “This Place: 150 Years Retold.” Highwater itself is a imprint of Portage & Main Press that specializes in indigenous non-fiction, novels, graphic novels, and children’s literature, and “Surviving the City” is considered part of their Debwe series of books (named after the Anishinaabe concept of speaking the truth).
Established in 2017, the IVAs recognize the year’s best First Nations literature, and, via the Ontario Arts Foundation, provides grants to published and unpublished indigenous authors. Head on over to CBC News for more on this year’s winners, including Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq, who won for her debut novel, Split Tooth. “Surviving the City,” which is aimed at readers aged 12 – 18, is available for purchase now.