York U Prof and Ottawa carpenter win Writers’ Trust awards

By Stephen Weir

Trinidadian Canadian writer Kai Thomas and York University Black Studies chair Christina Sharpe were among the big winners at Tuesday night’s 2023 Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards. The Writers’ Trust of Canada gave out seven prizes totaling $322,000 in recognition of the year’s best in fiction, nonfiction, and short story, as well as mid-career and lifetime achievement awards.

York U Prof and Ottawa carpenter win Writers’ Trust awards
Kai Thomas

The big winner of the $60,000 #AtwoodGibson Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize went to writer Kai Thomas, a writer and carpenter based in Ottawa. He takes home the night’s top prize for fiction with his first novel, “The Upper Country.”

The book tells the story of unforgettable women—one just beginning a journey of reckoning and self-discovery, and the other completing her life’s last vital act. This deeply researched debut is set in the Black communities of Ontario, which served as the last stop on the Underground Railroad.

Christina Sharpe took home the 2023 Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her memoir, “Ordinary Notes.”

Sharpe won the $75,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Nonfiction, the largest prize for nonfiction in the country. “Ordinary Notes” explores the complexities of Black life. According to the CBC, Sharpe “writes of the influence of her mother, Ida Wright Sharpe, and combines multiple voices on the many ways to experience Blackness.”

Sharpe did not appear at the ceremony last night. Accepting her prize was her partner, Trinidadian Canadian poet Dion Brand.