2020 posed exceptional challenges to many, including here at the Writers’ Trust. Unable to hold in-person events, our celebrations turned digital and our fundraising galas were reimagined. In spite of the obstacles we were delighted to step up and support Canadian authors at a historically record level. We are particularly proud of the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund that delivered $375,000 to more than 250 writers in the spring.
In total we provided a record $970,000 in direct support to Canadian writers, who need it more than ever right now. We have even bolder plans for next year with exciting announcements and new initiatives we can’t wait to share with you in 2021.
With December now upon us, the Writers’ Trust reached out to the Canadian authors we recognized this year and asked them to share the highlights of their own reading in 2020. In a year with very few ups and whole lot of downs, artists continued to publish fantastic work and we’ve got a sprawling range of 200+ recommendations that reflect the concerns and passions of our contributors. It’s an opportunity to discover the rich and diverse talent writing in Canada and abroad today, and we hope you’ll find the perfect gift for a literary-minded friend or family member — or something intriguing for yourself.
Entertaining and thought-provoking, the 10 best Canadian books of the year – as chosen by our fiction and nonfiction prize panels – took readers across the country and around the world to imagine new ways of understanding our shared planet and history. On our fiction jury podcast discussion, one of our jurors praised the selected authors for “writing towards the light” in a time of such darkness, and we think our Weston Prize jury would applaud the books they chose in their nonfiction jury discussion for possessing the same attributes. Meet and listen to Jessica J. Lee, winner of the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and novelist Gil Adamson, winner of the $50,000 Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, as well as eight other amazing prize finalists who were all featured in our WT Awards: Books of the Year video ceremony on November 18.
Each year, we present four $25,000 prizes to authors, not for a single book, but for the entirety of their career output. They are the only national awards of their kind in Canada. These prizes help celebrate a literary life and fund the creation of more great work. Watch and listen to in-depth interviews with this year’s prizewinners, which include iconic poet Dennis Lee; Kerri Sakamoto, a novelist exploring the experience of Japanese-Canadians; Armand Garnet Ruffo, an acclaimed poet influenced by his Ojibwe heritage; and the widely translated French-language picture book author and illustrator, Marianne Dubuc.
Our country’s preeminent writers don’t just appear out of nowhere. They are nurtured and developed. They blossom in writing groups or in isolation, through mentorships or creative writing courses. A network of organizations and outlets function as a collective incubator to help emerging writers hone and perfect their craft. The Writers’ Trust contributes to this collaborative support structure through, among other initiatives, four literary awards. Each come with $10,000 and have a storied track record of spotlighting Canada’s brightest writers at the outset of their careers. Meet and listen to winners Jessica Johns, Leah Mol, Arielle Twist, and Alexa Winik and the tremendous award finalists who were profiled in our WT Awards: Emerging Writers Edition video on October 21.
Do you know a writer that is having a tough time right now? Tell them about the Woodcock Fund, a grant program unlike any other in Canada. It provides financial support to writers facing unforeseen emergencies. Now more than ever writers are challenged on the income side, and a small problem can so easily cascade into a crisis. Writers may struggle to afford basic expenses or be compelled to ignore real mental health issues because of the cost of treatment. The Woodcock Fund exists as a safety net to professional writers when a one-time grant of a few thousand dollars can meaningfully address emergency situations.
The work we do not only improves the writing life in Canada, it results in memorable, thought-provoking stories that resonate with readers at home and abroad. To celebrate the end of 2020, we’re sharing with you 12 quotes from writers whose lives we’ve made an impact on this year, thanks to wonderful donors who know how important it is to support the creation of literature rooted in the Canadian experience. There are many ways to show writers you appreciate their time and effort throughout the holiday season and beyond:
- Set up a monthly gift to Writers’ Trust in support of future Canadian stories.
- Thank your clients and customers with a donation to Canadian literature in their name.
- Wrap up Canadian books as presents this year — use our list of WT award honourees and enter to win book prize packs via @writerstrust on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Ask gift-givers to direct a donation to the Writers’ Trust of Canada in your honour.