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Young authors awarded $10,000 at Laurier Stedman Prize celebration

Local NewsYoung authors awarded $10,000 at Laurier Stedman Prize celebration

A panel made up of academics and award-winning authors selected a short story titled Eight, Ten, Twelve by Cavelle Sproule as the winner of the third biennial Laurier Stedman Prize.

Results of this creative writing competition, hosted every other year by the English program at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, were announced at a virtual ceremony on May 26. Sproule, a student at Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School, receives a $3,000 cash prize, one of the largest of its kind for a creative fiction competition open exclusively to high school students.

“It’s wonderful to see how accomplished the young writers are who enter this competition, and we are grateful to be able to help encourage them to further develop their talent,” said Ken Paradis, associate professor of English at Laurier’s Brantford campus and coordinator of the Laurier Stedman Prize. “Thank you to the teachers at each school who do such a great job of preparing their students. Their work and dedication really show through in the quality of the entries that we receive.”

First awarded in 2018, the Laurier Stedman Prize is funded through an endowment and estate gift given to Wilfrid Laurier University by the late Miss Mary Stedman for the purpose of celebrating and promoting arts and culture. Stedman, who passed away in 2014, was a great champion of Laurier’s Brantford campus, and during her lifetime served as an executive member of the Canadian Booksellers Association.

The university created the Laurier Stedman Prize program, managed under the auspices of the English program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts, as a way to honour Stedman’s wishes. Participants were asked to submit original, unpublished works of fiction, up to 1,500 words in length. The competition was open to students studying within the boundaries of Brantford’s local school boards. It drew 51 entries from nearly every secondary school in the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District school boards, as well as the Six Nations Polytechnic STEAM Academy, and W. Ross Macdonald School.

“The Laurier Stedman Prize is such a wonderful way to celebrate our young storytellers,” said Heidi Northwood, Senior Executive Officer of the Brantford campus and host for the evening’s event. “We are so grateful for the generosity of the late Miss Mary Stedman and her vision for our community. The endowment she left to Laurier allows us to continue to inspire young authors in our region: to hone their craft as writers, find their voice and tell their stories.”

All entries were submitted anonymously and vetted by a series of sub-juries. The top 10 were then passed on to a prize jury to rank the finalists, and ultimately select the winner. The prize jury was chaired by Ian MacRae, associate professor in the English program at Laurier, and also included: award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley; 2020 Laurier Stedman Prize winner Samiha Sanjida; Pushcart Prize nominated writer and 2022 Edna Staebler Writer in Residence Ali Bryan; and Mariam Pirbhai, award-winning author and professor of English and Film Studies at Laurier.

In all, $10,000 in prize money was awarded at the Laurier Stedman Prize celebration. In addition to the $3,000 grand prize, the jury awarded two second-place prizes of $2,000 each and three third-place prizes of $1,000 each. The top 10 submissions as ranked by the prize jury are:

FIRST PLACE – $3,000

  • Eight, Ten Twelve by Cavelle Sproule, Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School


  • The Confectioner by Cailyn Mann, Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School
  • A Day at the Store by Tahiyah Syeda, Assumption College School


  • Delirious In Love by Aria Taylor, North Park Collegiate Vocational School
  • Katerina’s Letters by Sophie Vandenbrink, Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School
  • The Landline by Rylin Ward, Waterford District High School


  • Trapped by Mya Baxter, Holy Trinity Catholic High School
  • Missed Messages by Alescia Butler, Holy Trinity Catholic High School
  • Breathe by Madeline Campbell, St. John’s College
  • Cat Food by Abby Thompson, North Park Collegiate Vocational School

Read the grand-prize winning story and additional information on the Laurier Stedman Prize at wlu.ca/LaurierStedmanPrize.

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