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News / November 17, 2020

Jordan Bennett and Afua Cooper Win Nova Scotia Arts Awards

Bennett receives $25K Masterworks Award, and Cooper wins $18K Portia White Prize. Darcie (Ouiyaghasiak) Bernhardt and Andrea Tsang Jackson also recognized
Jordan Bennett, <em>Tepkik</em> (detail), 2018. Site-specific installation. Courtesy Brookfield Place Toronto. Photo: Ernesto Di Stefano. Jordan Bennett, Tepkik (detail), 2018. Site-specific installation. Courtesy Brookfield Place Toronto. Photo: Ernesto Di Stefano.

On Saturday, several Nova Scotia artists were honoured with the latest round of major provincial awards.

Jordan Bennett won the $25,000 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award—Nova Scotia’s largest award for any work of art, in any medium.

Bennett won for Tepkik, a 100-foot-long site-specific sculptural work that “draws on the Mi’kmaq petroglyph that depicts the Milky Way, which has been found on the rocky shores of the lakes and rivers at Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia,” according to the award website.

Tepkik is simultaneously specific and universal,” the award jury stated. “It takes the reverence for the night sky shared across cultures and uses it to hold space for the past and future of Mi’kmaq traditions.”

Afua Cooper won the Portia White Prize “recognizing cultural and artistic excellence by people who have attained professional status, mastery and recognition in their discipline,” explains a release. She receives $18,000, with the opportunity to award $7,000 to a chosen protégé—in this case, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

Cooper has written 13 books including poetry, fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. “As one of the founders of the Dub Poetry movement in Canada, she advocated the study of slavery and Black Canadian history in colleges and universities,” a release notes. Cooper also served as poet laureate of Halifax from 2018 to 2020.

Other artists were recognized, too. Among them was Darcie “Ouiyaghasiak” Bernhardt, an Inuvialuit/Gwich’in visual artist of Tuktuyaaqtuuq, living in Halifax, who received the $5,000 Indigenous Artist Recognition Award. Additionally, Andrea Tsang Jackson and Taylor Olson of Halifax each received a $5,000 Emerging Artist Award.