The Cowichan Tribes’s Danika Smith took high honours in a national indigenous writing and art contest. (Submitted photo)

Local Cowichan youth shines in national writing contest

Cowichan Tribe member Danika Smith places fifth in her category in Indigenous Arts & Stories contest

Duncan’s Danika Smith is being recognized nationally for her writing skills.

The 18 year-old member of Cowichan Tribes placed fifth in the junior writing category of the latest annual national Indigenous Arts & Stories contest, which received more than 950 submissions this year.

Smith won for her poem “Where I’m From.”

Her success in the contest is timely as National Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated on June 21, and June is National Indigenous History Month.

RELATED STORY: 15 NEW INDIGENOUS TEACHING TRAINING SEATS ADDED AT COWICHAN VIU CAMPUS

Smith said she was inspired to write the poem from treasured cultural experiences and memories she has from the past three years of her life, including times she joined her community on tribal journeys in canoes, when she did Tzinquaw dancing and singing, and when she was in elementary school.

“Writing a poem to me, it means to acknowledge the beautiful things that go on around life, to be in the moment that the particular actions happen,” Smith said in her author’s statement.

“My poem is about just some of the experiences that I was a part of along my journey.”

Smith said she was surprised she had done so well in the contest when she was informed recently by email.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been recognized for my writing,” she said.

“I may submit more of my writing to the contest next year. I want to be a photographer when I finish school, but now I’m thinking of doing some writing on the side as well.”

The Indigenous Arts & Stories contest, which is open to aboriginal youth aged six to 29, is organized by Historica Canada, the largest independent organization in the country devoted to enhancing awareness of Canadian history and citizenship.

More than 3,000 emerging Indigenous writers and artists from every province and territory in Canada have participated in the contest, the largest arts and creative writing competition for Indigenous youth in the nation, since 2005.

RELATED STORY: PROVINCE INVESTS $2.7 MILLION IN INDIGENOUS TEACHER EDUCATION TRAINING

With so many submissions this year, it was considered the toughest year for the competitors in the program’s 15 year history.

Winners were selected by a jury of notable Indigenous authors, artists and community leaders, including John Kim Bell, Ryan Rice, Drew Hayden Taylor, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley, Shirley Moorhouse, Bonnie Devine, Brian Maracle and Maxine Noel.

“We are always so impressed, but not surprised, by the calibre of work submitted to the Indigenous Arts & Stories contest,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada.

“This contest continues to showcase the eloquence and talent of Indigenous youth throughout Canada, and we are proud to provide a platform to amplify their stories.”

The first stanza of Smith’s poem gives the reader a sense of her most cherished memories.

“I am from the pounding on the deer skin, from sounds of clinks of small paddles,” the poem begins.

“I am from the smell of cedar wood burning (orange bits in the air, too hot to the touch, yellow and brown on the ground.) I am from the vague grey fog in the air, with tears coming slowly down my cheeks. The cold air embracing me with open arms, the cries of men and women loud enough for me to hear across the room.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Isles looking for playoff upset over Oceanside

The Kerry Park Islanders are looking to last year’s Cowichan Valley Capitals… Continue reading

Check out Cowichan’s heritage sites for Heritage Week

This year’s theme is “Bringing the Past into the Future”

Cowichan athletes medal in archery, curling and judo at BC Winter Games

Duncan Archer Liam Whitworth brought home two medals from the 2020 BC… Continue reading

Get ready to enjoy the ride and laugh along with Brentwood’s ‘Spamalot’

Spamalot is a twisted musical take on the tales of King Arthur.

Coming up in Cowichan: Learn about the Koksilah River and watershed

Speaker series to talk Koksilah River The next presentation in the Cowichan… Continue reading

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read