Books

My Future for Our Future by Saadia Saqib

Saadia Saqib, 16, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

My Future for Our Future by Saadia Saqib is one of 10 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category.

Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. More than 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Saqib, 16, a student at Port Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, writes about fresh water disputes and cross-border relations with the USA.


Isaiah's eyes were scarlet as he closed the front door. He blocked the thought that he may never see his family again as he walked toward the waiting airbus. While entering, he reluctantly turned to wave a final goodbye. Soon, the doors closed shut, and the glistening glass walls of the bus enclosed him as he navigated the aisles looking for a seat. He could see the front door of his home and his parents peering through the window. He turned away; it was too much, and let his mind wander, as he claimed the nearest seat. It seemed like his entire life was playing before his eyes. Mother and father bringing him home from the lab. His first ride on his air scooter. The time he saw the skeleton of an extinct polar bear. A sharp voice brought him back to his reality. 

"I am commander A23L, and I will be your instructor for the time being," said a robot-commando whose voice was a little too high pitched. They must've gotten the code wrong, thought Isaiah. 

"You all should be proud of yourselves, young ones, for stepping up to fight for Canada's Great Lakes. For centuries, Canada has kept its Fresh Water secure, but now, our neighbours to the south want to take that away from us, but we will fight for what's right!" The high pitch voice cracked before continuing. "We will fight for our waters and with you brave youth we are one step closer to securing freshwater for centuries to come!" 

For centuries, Canada has kept its Fresh Water secure, but now, our neighbours to the south want to take that away from us, but we will fight for what's right!

The commander tried to be optimistic and increase morale, but everyone slumped deeper into their seats and looked out the glass walls that were keeping them from their future. The city was surrounded by a protective shield that filtered the air, and as they got farther from the illuminating city lights, the dark wilderness welcomed them. The desolate land between cities was a junkyard, fit only for the wastes of humanity, but their transport was fully luminescent, and it buzzed through the night sky like a firefly in the dark woods. 

* * * 

Soon, Isaiah noticed the training base in the distance. He could make out the rows of metallic soldiers he would be leading; who would mimic his every move in battle. An eerie quiet blanketed the bus, as all the soldier-commandos looked out into their future with eyes brimming with uncertainty.


About The First Page student writing challenge

David A. Robertson is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning author and judge of the 2020 First Page student writing challenge. (Amber Green)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2170. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by award-winning author David A. Robertson

Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for readers of all ages — including the Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book, When We Were Alone and the Reckoner Rises graphic novel series.

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on April 16, 2021.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books.

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