Writer, performer, and activist Ivan Coyote has won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, presented by The Writers’ Union of Canada. Coyote was selected for the honour, which celebrates a writer whose work celebrates the freedom to read, because of their gifted storytelling and social-justice work.
A citation from an anonymous Canadian author praised Coyote’s career and personal commitment to supporting marginalized communities. “They have done amazing and long-term work, especially in schools, on the subject of bullying and discussing what it means to be transgender. The contents of their books are, to me, a testament to freedom — not only to read, but for every person to be themselves.”
The author of 12 books, Coyote’s most recent publication is Rebent Sinner (Arsenal Pulp Press), featuring essays on the trans and non-binary experience. It was listed as one of the Toronto Star’s 10 Best Books of 2019.
The award kicks off Freedom to Read Week (Feb. 23–29), which celebrates the freedom to read, write, and publish, with events and advocacy across Canada. The Freedom to Read Award, launched in 1999, has been presented to authors including John Raulston Saul, Lawrence Hill, and Deborah Campbell. Last year’s recipient was Jael Richardson and the Festival of Literary Diversity.