DECEMBER 2017 | In 2017 we celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. As a unique exercise in public theology for such a time as this, Cardus launched Faith in Canada 150 (FC150), a series of initiatives and events designed to remind Canadians of the important role that religion and faith have played in shaping this country. As 2017 wraps up, so have many of these exciting projects.
One of the last of these was the Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing. If you are a faithful reader of Comment, you might also be interested to know that the vision of this prize was shaped, in part, by the fall 2014 issue, Cracks in the Secular. One of the angles in that issue was, drawing on Charles Taylor, to highlight how the “conditions” of belief have changed. Not only are the faithful tempted to doubt, but the doubting are tempted to believe. In such a context, the power of fictional worlds to lead readers into unexplored realities, or of poetry to put pressure on our words and make the familiar once again strange, are both “cracks” in the hard shell of secularism where the light might get in.
The awards ceremony for the Mitchell Prize was held at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto on October 30, 2017. Over $25,000 was awarded at the event, making the Mitchell Prize the third largest literary prize in Canada, but the only one of its kind distinctly celebrating work that explores questions of belief, doubt, and how the world is experienced by Canadians who are formed by the rituals and practices of worshipping communities.
Having received hundreds of entries from poets and short story writers from sea to sea to sea, a special congratulation goes out to all the shortlisted writers, but particularly to Brandon Trotter (short story) and Rowda Mohamud (poetry), who each received $10,000 for their writing. The judges panel included former Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and the novelist and current principal of St. Michael’s College, Randy Boyagoda. You can read more about the prize, plus all the other shortlisted authors’ pieces, on the Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize home page: