Photography by Olivia Rutt
A panel made up of academics, award-winning authors and the former Speaker of the Ontario legislature selected the short story The Year I Dreamt by Samiha Sanjida as the winner of the second-ever Laurier Stedman Prize. Results of the biennial competition were announced during a ceremony at the Brantford Golf and Country Club in February.
A student at Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, Sanjida received a $3,000 cash prize, possibly the largest prize of its kind for a creative fiction competition open exclusively to secondary school students.
The Laurier Stedman Prize is open to secondary 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within the boundaries of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk school boards, with participants asked to submit original, unpublished works of fiction up to 1,500 words in length.
– Heidi Northwood
First awarded in 2018, the 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.
“I am proud of this evening’s event and of Wilfrid Laurier University’s role in celebrating our young storytellers,” said Heidi Northwood, senior executive officer of Laurier's Brantford campus. “The Laurier Stedman Prize is a wonderful example of what we do best at Laurier: collaborating with partners to create opportunities that benefit our community.”
The Laurier Stedman Prize jury included Faculty of Liberal Arts dean Kathryn Carter, New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley, award-winning writer and folklorist Emily Urquhart, retired educator and former Speaker of the Ontario legislature Dave Levac (BA '76) and Northwood.
In total, $10,000 in prize money was awarded at the Laurier Stedman Prize celebration. In addition to Sanjida’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.
The Year I Dreamt, Samiha Sanjida (Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School)
Yellow, Grace Ratelband (St. John’s College)
Just Like That They Were Strangers, Sierra Miller (Holy Trinity Catholic High School)
Eddy’s Ballad, Brady Cochrane (St. John’s College)
Lianne, Sovai Di Veto (Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School)
Just Let Go, Vibha Koottala (Assumption College School)