Laurier celebrated the launch of a significant new literary prize for high school students during a gala event at the university's Brantford campus in February.
The short story The Lechton Wanderer by Abby Traina was named winner of the first-ever Laurier Stedman Prize. Traina, a Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School student, received a $3,000 cash prize for her work.
The Laurier Stedman Prize is open to high school students studying within the boundaries of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk school boards, with participants asked to submit original, unpublished works of fiction up to 1,500 words in length. A panel made up of Laurier academics, authors including Deborah Ellis and Emily Urquhart, and Speaker of the Ontario legislature Dave Levac (BA '76) selected the winners.
In total, $10,000 was awarded at the Laurier Stedman Prize celebration. In addition to Traina's $3,000 grand prize, the jury awarded two second-place prizes of $2,000 each and three third-place prizes of $1,000 each. Other winners included:
"It's incredibly gratifying to play a role in recognizing the rich talent among this generation of up-and-coming authors," said Brian Rosborough, senior executive officer of Laurier's Brantford campus. "We're so grateful to Mary Stedman for her foresight and generosity. The Laurier Stedman Prize is a program we look forward to continuing for many years to come."
The Laurier Stedman Prize is funded through an endowment and estate gift to Laurier from the late Mary Stedman for the purpose of celebrating and promoting arts and culture. Stedman, who passed away in 2014, was a champion of Laurier's Brantford campus and during her lifetime served as an executive member of the Canadian Booksellers Association.
Stedman, whose family was active in the business, social and cultural fabric of Brantford and Brant for more than a century, was an early supporter of the idea of a university in Brantford, providing an important kick-start as one of the first donors to the fledgling campus in 1999. Gifts from Stedman and the estate of her sister, Ruth, supported the construction of the university's Research and Academic Centre. The university's bookstore bears the Stedman family name in recognition of their exceptional generosity.