Celebrating Canada’s Faith Communities Through Writing
Doug Sikkema ‘06 and Dr. Deborah Bowen spearhead the Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing

A massive party on Parliament Hill and commemorative coins from the Canadian Mint are planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. Yet, a scant amount of the many celebrations organized have much to do with the diverse faith communities present in our country.

Hamilton-based think tank Cardus is on it. As part of their Faith in Canada 150 initiative, Cardus has created the Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing. The prize is named after Ross Mitchell, a philanthropic Christian lawyer, and his wife Davis, a spiritual director—the couple who started the successful company Madison Chemical. $25,000 of prize money will be awarded to poetry and fiction writers whose work exhibits the “powerful truth, goodness, and beauty that belief brings into our shared lives”.

“There are quite a few major awards in Canada for writing. This is the first to recognize writing specifically with a faith dimension.”

“I’m inspired by the enthusiasm there is across a range of institutions and faith communities for this prize,” says Doug Sikkema ‘06, project lead for the prize, an alumnus and adjunct professor of English at Redeemer. “We’ve talked with people from PEN Canada, the Literary Review of Canada and the League of Canadian poets. Whether the organization is faith-based or not, there is a genuine excitement about this prize and a strong belief that Canada has needed something like this for a long time.”

The potential to bring attention to Canadian writers who are animated by a faith tradition is exciting. “There are quite a few major awards in Canada for writing,” says professor of English Dr. Deborah Bowen, who has joined the judging panel for poetry. “This is the first to recognize writing specifically with a faith dimension. It’s a brave and timely venture into the public square, and one that Redeemer should be proud to be associated with.” Dr. Bowen will review the poetry submitted alongside acclaimed poets George Eliott Clarke and Todd Swift.

The prize is synergistic with Redeemer as an institution. To bring more prominently into the secular imagination the concept of faith is a task daily striven towards in the community. “We rejoice that the God of all the earth has not left Himself without a faithful witness, even within the writing of our contemporary secularized cultural moment,” says Bowen. “In whatever way we can support this initiative from within Redeemer, let us do so.”

Writers are encouraged to submit their poetry and fiction online at faithincanada150.ca/initiatives/mitchell-prize.

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