OAF News

Shortlists for the 2020 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards announced

Toronto, June 23, 2020 – The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) and the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) are pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2020 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards.  The Schwartz Awards are the only Canadian literary award where student juries work together to choose the winning books.

The 2020 winners are being chosen by two student juries from Canada's National Ballet School in Toronto, who will debate and come to a consensus by video conference.  The winners will be announced in July 2020.

This year's shortlist features Canadian authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds working in a variety of literary and artistic styles.   The Children's Picture Book category features several books combining scientific inquiry and artistic exploration.  Other themes include the importance of family and staying true to oneself. The Young Adult / Middle Reader shortlist features stories of young people transformed into leaders, transported through music - and sometimes, just having fun.  



Fairy Science
by Ashley Spires
(Delta, B.C.)
Tundra Books

In My Anaana's Amautik
by Nadia Sammurtok
(Iqaluit, Nunavut)
illustrations by Lenny Lishchenko (Toronto, Ont.)
Inhabit Media Inc.

Lili Macaroni
by Nicole Testa
(Rimouski, Que.)
Illustrations by Annie Boulanger (Rouyn-Noranda, Que.)
Pajama Press

My Forest is Green
by Darren Lebeuf 
(Edmonton, Alta.)
illustrations by Ashley Barron
(Toronto, Ont.)
Kids Can Press

The Pencil
by Susan Avingaq (Igloolik, Nunavut)
and Maren Vsetula (Guelph, Ont.)
illustrations by Charlene Chua (Hamilton, Ont.)
Inhabit Media Inc.



Broken Strings
 Eric Walters (Guelph, Ont.) and
Kathy Kacer (Toronto, Ont.)
Puffin Canada


Camp Average
by Craig Battle 
(Toronto, Ont.)
Owlkids Books

by Kyo Maclear (Toronto, Ont.)
illustrations by Byron Eggenschwiler
(Calgary, Alta.)
Groundwood Books

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying 
by Kelley Armstrong
(Aylmer, Ont.)
Puffin Canada

Stand on the Sky
by Erin Bow 
(Kitchener, Ont.)
Scholastic Canada Ltd.


The two awards, of $6,000 each
are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children's literature. The winners are selected by two juries of young readers, which this year are students at Canada's National Ballet School in Toronto.  Five students in grades 6  will select the recipient(s) of the Children's Picture Book Award. Five students in grades 8 will select the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.


"In these unfamiliar times, books offer a powerful way to transcend physical and social distance and reconnect with the world around us – particularly for young readers. My heartfelt congratulations go to all of the nominated authors and illustrators, as well as this year’s student jurors, the first ever to select the Schwartz Awards laureates virtually!"
Carolyn Vesely, CEO, OAC

“Literature has always held a prominent place in enriching our lives. This is all the more apparent during moments of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations to this year’s nominated authors and illustrators and for the student jurors coming together this year under different circumstances to choose the winning books. It is heartening to see that even in the most troubled times, we can still appreciate the tremendous value of a good book.”
Alan Walker, Executive Director, OAF


The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth Schwartz, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters. The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), which manages the nomination and jury process. These awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.

The nomination committee that chose this year's shortlist consisted of Carmen Condotta (teacher-librarian, Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board, Mississauga), Nora Elliott-Coutts (Head of Children's Services, North Bay Public Library, North Bay), and Stephanie Minett (co-owner, The Bookshelf Bookstore, Guelph).

  Click here to see the full list.


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Shoshana Wasser, Senior Communications Coordinator, OAC



Alan Walker, Executive Director, OAF


The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario.  In 2019-2020, the OAF paid over $4.25 million in endowment income and $270,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 55 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2018-2019, the  OAC invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

 Ce document existe ègalement en français.

Recipients announced for the third annual Indigenous Voices Awards

June 21, 2020: Jesse Thistle, Arielle Twist, Michelle Sylliboy, and Elaine McArthur were among this year’s Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) recipients announced during an online gala hosted by past IVAs recipient Smokii Sumac. Including this year’s combined prize money of $30,000 (CAD), the IVAs have awarded a total of $70,000 over the past three years to Indigenous writers for published and unpublished writing in a variety of genres and in English, French, and Indigenous languages. A recording of the gala is available now on the IVAs social channels.

Awards have been offered in at least seven different categories each year, in efforts to transcend the individualism of prize culture and to encourage community building. All finalists are invited to participate in mentorship initiatives, designed to cultivate relationships among emerging and established Indigenous writers and to provide practical career and creative support. 

The third annual Indigenous Voices Awards were administered by the Indigenous Literary Studies Association, a scholarly body based in lands claimed by Canada that focuses on the teaching and study of Indigenous peoples’ literatures. 

IVAs finalists this year were recognized in eight distinct categories, reflecting the diversity and complexity of Indigenous literary art.  

2020 Recipient: Naomi Fontaine, Shuni — Ce que tu dois savoir, Julie (Mémoire d’encrier)
2020 Nominee: J.D. Kurtness, Aquariums (L’instant même) 

2020 Recipient: Jesse Thistle, From the Ashes (Simon & Schuster)
2020 Nominees: Helen Knott, In My Own Moccasins (University of Regina Press); Kaitlyn Purcell, ʔbédayine (Metatron Press) 

2020 Recipients:
Maya Cousineau-Mollen, Bréviaire du matricule 082 (Éditions Hannenorak)
Marie-Andrée Gill, Chauffer le dehors (La peuplade) 

2020 Recipients:
• Michelle Sylliboy, Kiskajeyi—I am Ready (Rebel Mountain)
• Arielle Twist, Disintegrate/Dissociate (Arsenal Pulp Press)

2020 Nominees: Brandi Bird, I Am Still Too Much (Rahila’s Ghost Press); Francine Cunningham, On/Me (Caitlin Press) 

2020 Recipients:
Rene Meshake, Injichaag: My Soul in Story (University of Manitoba Press)
• Cole Pauls, Dakwäkãda Warriors (Conundrum)

2020 Recipient: Cody Caetano, Excerpts from “Half-Bads in White Regalia”
2020 Nominees: Treena Chambers, “Forest Fires and Falling Stars”; Steven Hall, “Gatzi Naka” 

2020 Recipient: Keely Shirt, “Two Little Foxes, Buttertown Beach, I Will Never be Happier” 
2020 Nominees: David Agecoutay, “Willow A Quartet”; Corri Daniels, “A Memory of Mary”

2020 Recipient: Elaine McArthur, Elizabeth Dances Pow-wow (Independently published)
2020 Nominee: Phyllis Webstad, Phyllis’s Orange Shirt (Medicine Wheel Education)

This year’s IVAs jurors are acclaimed and award-winning writers themselves: Jordan Abel; Jeannette Armstrong; Joanne Arnott; Francis Langevin; Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley; Pierrot Ross-Tremblay; and Richard Van Camp

The Indigenous Literary Studies Association acknowledges IVAs support from: Penguin Random House Canada; Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA); Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF); Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival; Pamela Dillon; Sylvia Moreno-Garcia; Robin Parker; and the countless supporters who have donated to the IVAs crowd-sourced fund over the past three years. Further donations are always welcome and deeply appreciated: please visit indigenousvoicesawards.org for more information.  

Connect and Share: 
Twitter @IndigenousVAs
Facebook @IndigenousVoicesAwards
Instagram @IndigenousVoicesAwards


Read Indigenous! Check out the published works of IVAs nominees and recipients: indigenousvoicesawards.org/read-indigenous 

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Katie Saunoris, publicist, katiesaunoris@gmail.com 
Deanna Reder, IVAs Co-Chair, dhr@sfu.ca 


Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca

Sean Mulcahy honoured with the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design

Toronto, June 17, 2020 – Toronto-based set and costume designer Sean Mulcahy is the 2020 recipient of the $20,000 Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design.  The award is given annually to a professional costume designer in Ontario in mid-career to further enrich their career.

About Sean Mulcahy

Sean is a Toronto based designer whose work has been seen across North America, including at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Rainbow Stage, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Drayton Entertainment, Obsidian Theatre Company, Canadian Stage, Harold Green Jewish Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse and Neptune Theatre. He was an assistant designer at the Stratford Festival for seven seasons and the inaugural designer for Es Artes, the Stratford Suchitoto Project.

He has been awarded a Guthrie and the Tom Patterson Award (Stratford Festival) and received three Robert Merritt awards (8 nominations, Theatre Nova Scotia). He received best Group Costume Design (Pride Toronto) and was shortlisted for the 2011 Pauline McGibbon Award.

Sean is a graduate of York University’s Theatre Production and Design program (BFA Honours), and holds a PGCert. in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. He is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and a Design instructor at Ryerson University, Chang School for Continuing Education.

I am humbled to be this year’s laureate and must acknowledge the craftspeople who help me bring my garments to life, the performers who inhabit each character and feel emboldened by their costume and every director who has given me the opportunity to contribute to the creative vision, particularly those who gave me a bit of unbridled freedom and trust


Sean Mulcahy was selected by a jury comprising Andrea Donaldson, Artistic Director, Nightwood Theatre (Toronto), Julia Kim, emerging set and costume designer (Toronto), and Gillian Gallow, 2018 Cooper laureate, set and costume designer (Toronto).

The jury was unanimous in their choice of Sean Mulcahy as the 2020 laureate, stating, "Sean's work is bold and original. He has a strong sense of texture which he uses to help animate the characters."

“Bend It Like Beckham, The Musical”. Starvox Entertainment. 2019. Blyth Jandoo with Paul Almeida. LX Jason Hand. Photo by Seanna Kennedy.

About the Award

Established through a generous gift under the will of Dr. Virginia Cooper, the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award is to be given "For the Love of Creation".  Dr. Cooper served as a director of the Tarragon Theatre, and was a charter member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and active in its activities.  She had a keen interest in the performing arts, particularly in costume design. 

The Ontario Arts Foundation manages the endowment that funds the award, and the Ontario Arts Council manages the nomination and adjudication process.

Previous award winners include:  Joanna Yu (2019), Gillian Gallow (2018) and Tamara Marie Kucheran (2017).   See the full list of previous recipients here.


For more information, please contact:
Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation

416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca


Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2019-2020, the OAF paid out over $4.25 million in endowment income and $270,000 in awards and scholarships.

For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts and artists for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2018-2019, the Ontario Arts Council invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

Ce document existe également en français.
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