How to pitch your personal essay to Canada 2017

You don't have to be a professional writer to tell a great story. Canada 2017 wants to give you a chance to share your unique perspective.

We're looking for surprising perspectives on Canadian life and identity

Do you have a fascinating first-person perspective on Canada? Help us see what you see. (Gavin Schaefer/Flickr/CC)

You don't have to be a professional writer to tell an amazing story. 

As the country marks 150 years since Confederation, we at Canada 2017 want to hear new and surprising stories about Canada from the people who live them everyday.

Can you take us to a time and place where your notion of Canada shifted? Or to a corner of this vast country that most have never seen? Can you bust a cliché, make us laugh, give us pause or tell us something we've never heard before? 

Our team is commissioning personal essays rooted in first-person storytelling — personal experiences that springboard into larger ideas and visions of what the country could be. 

Our call-out is open to the general public. You don't have to be a published writer, just a generous raconteur willing to work with one of our editors. We are accepting pitches all year. 

Here are 5 questions we will ask when considering personal essays: 

  1. Is the writer sharing a personal point of view about contemporary Canada, rooted in a perspective-shifting experience? 
  2. Is this a surprising story? Or a perspective that is not often heard from?
  3. Does it challenge stereotypes about Canada or Canadian identity?
  4. Why does it matter that this story takes place in Canada?
  5. Does the essay present a vision for what the country could be?

If you have a story that fits all or most of these criteria, send an email to 2017@CBC.ca with the subject line Personal Essay followed by a working headline.

Please include a short pitch (no more than 250 words) as plain text in the body of your message, as well as your full name and current location.

Please note: we are interested original writing. Previously published work will not be considered.

Response time will depend on the volume of submissions, but we will let you know when your pitch has been received and follow up with next steps if we are interested in commissioning your piece.

Rhose Harris-Galia kicked off our personal essay series with her story, "Why I stayed in Iqaluit after moving there by accident." (Rhose Harris-Galia)

Need an idea? Interview yourself! 

Here are a few questions that just might lead you to that great yarn. Think of a personal experience that answers the question and run your answer through our five questions above. 

  • When was a time in your life you felt most proud to be Canadian? Conversely, when has Canada most disappointed you?

  • Do you have an odd, uncommon or even unpopular reaction to a Canadian icon or symbol? Conversely, do you know a person, place or event that should be a new Canadian icon or symbol? 

  • Can you think of a personal relationship that changed your view of Canada? Why did it affect you so deeply? 

  • Can you think of a Canadian moment that sparked a strong reaction in you? (Think: tears, shock, uncontrollable laughter.) 

  • Think of your very best crowd-pleasing story. Can you file it under "only in Canada"? 

  • Has a trip or move within or outside Canada given you new perspective on the country?

  • What is your most prized Canadian possession? Was does it symbolize for you?

  • When explaining Canada to non-Canadians, what do you tend to oversimplify? Why is that? 

  • Have you ever experienced something strange or surreal (dare we say supernatural) in Canada?

  • How do you think about your Canadian identity? Do you take it for granted? Appreciate it deeply? Struggle with it? Why? 

Answer bravely and honestly, and you will be on your way. The email again: 2017@CBC.ca

Not comfortable writing in the first person? 

If you have (or know of) a good story but don't feel up to writing it yourself, please let us know. We are also publishing articles, profiles and Q&As all year. 

Lead photo by Gavin Schaefer/Flickr/CC 

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