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Sept. 18, 2017

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Brantford – Young writers have a chance to win one of the largest cash prizes offered exclusively for creative fiction produced by high school students thanks to the Laurier Stedman Prize. Launched Sept. 18 at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus, the Laurier Stedman Prize is open to students living and studying within the geographic boundaries of the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District school boards.

The prize is funded through an endowment and estate gift from Miss Mary Stedman. A great supporter of the university, Stedman passed away in 2014. She entrusted the university with the task of determining how to best use the funds.

“Mary Stedman has given us the privilege and the responsibility of using this gift in a way that benefits the community and promotes learning,” said Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor. “We are proud to honour her legacy in a way that celebrates the arts, recognizes talented youth, and builds upon the university-community connections that are integral to this campus.”

The English program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Laurier’s Brantford campus will administer the competition. Faculty coordinator Ken Paradis is liaising with local high schools to share details on how students can participate. The deadline for entries is December 8, 2017. Winners will be announced at a special celebration in early February.

A total of $10,000 will be awarded to the top winners. There will be one first-place prize of $3,000; two second-place prizes of $2,000 each; and three third-place prizes of $1,000 each.

“Well-crafted stories possess incredible power,” said Heidi Northwood, dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts. “Any of us who has read a great work of fiction knows the sense of transformation that can come from reading. The Laurier Stedman Prize celebrates the up-and-coming storytellers among us. It recognizes those with a gift for using language to make us think, feel, question, consider and reconsider.”

Full details on the Laurier Stedman Prize can be found at

About Mary Stedman

Members of the Stedman family were active in the business, social and cultural fabric of Brantford and Brant County for more than a century. Mary Stedman’s father, Samuel W. Stedman, went into business with his brothers in 1904, establishing the first Stedman’s Bookstore on Colborne St. in Brantford. They went on to create a chain of five-and-10 cent department stores with locations across Canada. The Stedman name has become synonymous in Brantford with generosity and community building.

Mary Stedman served as managing director of Stedman's Bookstore Ltd. from 1950 to 1974 and was a member of the executive of the Canadian Booksellers Association. She was also the director and former chair of the bursary committee of the Samuel W. Stedman Foundation.

Mary Stedman 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. The university’s bookstore bears the Stedman family name in recognition of their exceptional generosity. Gifts from Mary and the estate of her sister Ruth supported the construction of the university’s Research and Academic Centre. Per Stedman’s wishes, the Brantford campus bookstore is open not only to Laurier students, but to everyone in the community.

Laurier Stedman Prize Quick Facts

  • The competition is open exclusively to high school students who live and study within the geographic footprint of the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District school boards, including the W. Ross MacDonald School, Six Nations Polytechnic STEAM Academy, the Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo Mohawk and Cayuga immersion school and others.
  • Submissions are to be original, unpublished works of fiction, up to 1,500 words in length.
  • The Laurier Stedman Prize will award a total of $10,000 in cash prizes:
    • One first-place prize of $3,000;
    • Two second-place prizes of $2,000 each, and;
    • Three third-place prizes of $1,000 each.
    • This is one of the – possibly the – largest prize purses of any creative writing contest open exclusively to high school students.
    • English departments at participating schools will determine which entries will be put forward. Individual schools can choose their own method for selecting stories.
    • Entries must be submitted online by December 8, 2017.
    • Stories will be adjudicated through December and January under the administration of the English program at Wilfrid Laurier University. Jurors will not see author names or schools.
    • Prizes will be awarded in early February 2018 at a special celebration.

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