Celebrating the Unheard Voices in Toronto: Top Canadian Writers Select Winners of 14th Annual Words from the Street Writing Contest


Toronto, ONTARIO (November 19, 2015) — Ve’ahavta, a Jewish humanitarian organization, and the Toronto Writers Collective, which provides free ongoing creative writing workshops to underserved communities throughout the GTA, are pleased to announce the winners of the 14th annual citywide creative writing contest, Words from the Street. The Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, November 29 at the Toronto Central YMCA Auditorium, 20 Grosvenor Street, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Over 140 submissions were received from individuals whose voices are often unheard in this city. Many were inspired by their participation in the Creative Writing Program workshops serving the homeless, youth at risk, women who have been in the correctional system, and individuals from the LGBTQ, mental health and Indigenous communities.

One of the contest participants says, “I was happy to find that there was a friendly creative writing competition for someone like me… previously homeless…This contest resonated with me because it was for my people… the ‘fallen,’ to say we’re here, and want to run again.”

Judges for the contest included acclaimed writers and representatives from Toronto’s community sector including Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee David Bezmozgis; two-time winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for excellence in crime fiction, Howard Shrier; award-winning science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer, columnists Christie Blatchford and Margaret Wente; and leading Toronto psychiatrist and author, Dr. Paul Garfinkel. (For a complete list of judges, please see

“Marginalized voices need to be heard, and it was a privilege to get to help spotlight them. Writers are told to write what they know, and these people have known tragedy and triumph few of us will ever experience. The overall calibre of the writing was excellent, and many of these stories will stick with me forever,” Sawyer says.

Prizes will be awarded at the event, and top winners will read their award-winning pieces to a live audience. Howard Shrier says, “As a writer of crime fiction, I’ve researched life in the margins of different cities…The writers in Words from the Street have lived in those dark corners and most of the entries I read burned that experience onto the page. Some were heartbreaking, a few surprisingly funny….Almost all pulsed with real blood. They showed the kind of heart and soul any author hopes to achieve.”

Interview and Photo Opportunities:

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Ve’ahavta is a Jewish humanitarian organization dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of people of all faiths who are marginalized by poverty and committed to engaging community members as volunteers to support our collective mission of repairing the world.

The Toronto Writers Collective is an organization that offers free creative writing workshops throughout Toronto. The organization provides experienced facilitators and a supportive writing space for people facing social and economic challenges who have been deprived of voice in our society.

Anne Ptasznik, Interim Director of Communications
Office: (416) 964-7698 ext. 228
Cell:   (416) 251-9292






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