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New student-written fiction contest will be richest in Canada

The Bridge Prize was established as the University of Lethbridge’s “Giller Prize for students,” says dean of liberal education.


The University of Lethbridge has established the richest prize for student-written short fiction in Canada. The Bridge Prize, hosted by the university’s school of liberal education, will award one student author a top prize of $7,500 and $1,000 each to three additional finalists.

Shelly Wismath, dean of liberal education, says the institution was approached to establish the “Giller Prize for students” by U of Lethbridge alumnus Terry Whitehead, a managing partner of executive search firm Alexander Whitehead and board volunteer with the Vancouver Writers Fest and Vancouver International Film Festival. Mr. Whitehead, who has previously founded a student playwriting contest at the university, will fund the short fiction contest for 10 years, with prizes awarded every other year.

The name, a nod to Lethbridge’s iconic high-level rail bridge, is also meant to evoke the contest’s mission to support student authors in becoming professional writers. To that end, a local organizing committee has put together an impressive roster of jurors, which includes Shelley Ambrose, executive director of The Walrus; writer and comedian Charles Demers; Leslie Hurtig, artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Fest; writer and scholar Aritha van Herk; and award-winning writer Thomas King, who will serve as head juror.

Students registered at Canadian postsecondary institutions are eligible for the contest, which closes January 20, 2020. Winners will be announced in September.

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