Crossing the stage at convocation this June was only the beginning for Dawn Martin ’13. The recent Indigenous Studies graduate can now add acclaimed writer to her list of achievements as the 2017 Aboriginal Arts & Stories Senior Writing Prize winner for her free verse poem, Kahnekanoron – Water is Life.
As the 2017 winner, Ms. Martin not only spent some time at The Banff Centre for a week-long writing residency, but was one of four students who received the Governor General’s History Award last week. Awarded by Historica Canada, and meant to encourage Indigenous youth to excel in the field of writing and visual arts, Ms. Martin was presented the award by her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada at Rideau Hall.
The national prize encourages Canadians of Indigenous ancestry to explore their heritage and culture through mediums of storytelling. Ms. Martin’s poem explores what water means to her, and is written in both Mohawk and English.
Ms. Martin says her time at Trent was instrumental in fostering her writing, and the support she received from the Indigenous Studies department and the First Peoples House of Learning opened many doors for her writing and performance skills.
“I took Indigenous Literature and Creative Writing in my second-year at Trent. The professor and Ph.D. candidate Angela Semple helped me explore my work further and also helped with my performance pieces,” explains Ms. Martin. “I have also co-written many works for the Indigenous Women’s Symposium, Remembrance Day, and I wrote one for Indigenous Studies' video, Nibi The Water of Our Learning. Through these opportunities and the faculty who guided me along the way, I was able to explore my creative side throughout my academic journey.”
Ms. Martin is finishing her B.Ed. degree at Queen’s University as a student in the Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education program. After that, she hopes to study her Indigenous language Kanien:kehá (Mohawk) at an adult immersion program on her reserve and explore Master’s programs in Indigenous Governance.