Doctoral study on health care for Indigenous children wins two Quebec literary awards

MONTREAL, 25 November 2021 / CNW Telbec / – An in-depth and critical study of from Canada health services for indigenous children by Samir Shaheen-Hussain has won two annual literary prizes from the Federation of Quebec Writers (FAQ). Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism Against Indigenous Children in Canada, received both the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction and the Concordia University First book prize.

by Shaheen-Hussain Fighting for a hand to hold is “a necessary book,” wrote one juror, “not just for the medical workers who provide care to Indigenous children, but for the officials who provide that care, and especially necessary for Quebec politicians who continue to deny systemic racism against Indigenous peoples and other racialized minorities. ”

The author, a pediatrician and assistant professor of medicine at McGill, was one of the main organizers of a campaign that prompted the Quebec government to stop airlifting children from northern communities for treatment in the south without a parent or guardian present.

The QWF Hugh MacLennan Paragraph Prize for Fiction went to Mikhail Iossel for Love like water, Love like fire, a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories retracing the youth of a man in Russia to his experiences as an immigrant in Montreal.

“Heartbreaking, hilarious, dark and devastating,” is how one juror described the stories of Iossel, a Concordia University professor of literature. “The sentences twist the reader through the illogical forces of dictatorship, childhood, puberty, survival, and the agonizing writing of poetry in a communist regime.” Another quoted one of the tales from the book, Moscow windows, as “surreal and realistic… one of the best stories I have ever read”.

The other QWF laureates are:

  • The Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children’s / Young Adult Literature at Monique Polak, for Room for One more, a war story of Rosetta, a Westmount girl whose family shelters a “ready-made brother” Isaac, a young 16 year old Kindertransport Nazi refugee Germany.
  • The AM Klein Prize for Poetry at Sarah venart for I am the big heart, whose poems have been described by a juror as “deceptively compact, but vast (whose) details … are warm to the touch”.
  • The Cole Foundation Prize for Translation into Sarah henzi for rendering the work of the late An Antane Kapesh I am a Cursed savage; What have you done with my country? To I’m a bloody savage; What have you done to my country?
  • The Judy Mappin Award for Outstanding Contributions to English Language Literature in Quebec to the bookseller Richard king, founder of the Paragraphe bookstore, and writer H. Nigel thomas, including the teaching and founding of Cola magazine was a transformation for black writers in Quebec.
  • The QWF College Writers Prize at Julien button-nadon of John Abbott College for her short story, “A Fisher’s Parade.
  • The flames QWF Online Magazine Best Contributions Award for Noa Padawer Blatt, for Things (Number 41).

For more details on the QWF winners and shortlisted finalists, and their work, please visit

SOURCE Federation of Writers of Quebec

For more information: Lori Schubert, [email protected], 514-244-9088

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