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2014 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest winner Ashley Ash

Hon. Hilary M. Weston and the Writers’ Trust Announce Winners of Inaugural Student Writing Contest

First annual contest draws entries from high-school students across Canada

June 10, 2014 Toronto – The Writers’ Trust of Canada has announced the winners of the inaugural Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest. Associated with the prestigious Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the program aims to encourage talented young Canadian writers to pursue their craft, and carries a grand prize of $2,500 for the winner and $1,000 for the winner’s school.

First-place winner Ashley Ash, an 18-year-old from Toronto, took home the $2,500 prize for a memoir of her experience with foster care, “No One’s Girl,” which the jury called “aphoristic and smart with one lovely sentence after another.” Ash’s school, Vaughan Road Academy, will receive $1,000. In addition, Ash is invited to attend the 2014 Hilary Weston Prize gala on October 14 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, where she will be honoured on stage amongst publishing industry professionals and notable Canadian writers, and her essay will be published online by Maclean’s magazine at

A second-place prize of $500 was awarded to 17-year-old Juliette Dandenault from Montreal for her offbeat piece on neighbourly bonds, “His Darlings, the Trees.” Third place, and $250, went to 16-year-old Janelle Rowsell from Kanata, Ontario for her account of growing up, “Paper Clocks.”

The Writers’ Trust received over 400 submissions from grade 9 – 12 students across Canada. Submissions were between 1,000 and 2,000 words on a topic of the author’s choosing and classifiable as creative nonfiction. Winners were selected by the 2013 Hilary Weston Prize jury: novelist and cultural critic Hal Niedzviecki, writer and 2012 prize winner Candace Savage, and writer and creative nonfiction writing instructor Andreas Schroeder.

In recognition of what they perceived to be a superlative level of submissions, the jury selected three further entrants to receive an honourable mention. They are: 18-year-old Keisha Derrick from Hamilton, Ontario for her piece on learning life lessons in Antigua, “Granny’s Hope”; 16-year-old HyunGu Kang from Toronto for her insights on math, science, and art, “QED – Math is a Beautiful Thing”; and 17-year-old Clare Sully-Stendahl from Vancouver, British Columbia for her memoir about the loss of a cherished family pet, “Sophie.”

"The opportunity to connect the future talents of Canadian nonfiction writing with its established practitioners was an early goal of the Hilary Weston Prize," said Hon. Hilary M. Weston. "The outstanding quality of submissions to this inaugural student nonfiction contest exceeded our expectations, and suggests a happy narrative for the future of nonfiction writing in Canada."

To read “No One’s Girl” by Ashley Ash, visit

To read essays by all three prize winners and honourable mention recipients, visit

About the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

HWWTP_logoThis $60,000 prize is awarded for literary excellence in the category of nonfiction, which includes, among other forms, personal or journalistic essays, history, biography, memoirs, commentary, and criticism, both social and political. Finalist works will, in the opinion of the jury, demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique. The 2014 shortlist will be announced on September 17, with the winner being revealed at the Hilary Weston Prize gala on October 14.

About Hon. Hilary M. Weston, CM, OOnt

Weston_Hilary_smallHon. Hilary M. Weston served as the 26th lieutenant-governor of Ontario from 1997 to 2002. As the Queen’s representative in Ontario, Mrs. Weston was responsible for the Crown’s constitutional and representational roles in the province. Since leaving public office, Mrs. Weston has continued to pursue her diverse interests. She led Renaissance ROM, the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian cultural history, transforming the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She is a trustee of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and serves on the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mrs. Weston is also a corporate director of Wittington Investments and Selfridges Group Ltd. She has also served as deputy chair of the board of Holt Renfrew, promoting Canadian designers in the retailing business.

Mrs. Weston founded the Ireland Fund of Canada and remains a patron of this non-denominational organization promoting peace in Ireland. Her interests in homes and gardens resulted in the publication of In a Canadian Garden (1989) and At Home in Canada (1995). She served as first chancellor of the Order of Ontario, was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2003, and is the recipient of six honorary degrees.

About the Writers’ Trust

The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.


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