Samir Shaheen-Hussain and Monique Polak among winners for Quebec Writers' Federation Literary Awards

The QWF Literary Awards annually honour the best books published by English-language writers and translators in Quebec in six categories. 

The awards honour the best books by English-language writers and translators in Quebec

Samir Shaheen-Hussain, left, and Monique Polak, right, are two of the five winners of the 2021 QWF Literary Awards. (Submitted by MUHC, John Federicks)

Five writers and translators, including Samir Shaheen-Hussain and Monique Polak, have won the 2021 QWF Literary Awards for their work.

Established by the Quebec Writers' Federation in 1988, the QWF Literary Awards annually honour the best books published by English-language writers and translators in Quebec in six categories. 

Fighting for a Hand to Hold by Shaheen-Hussain won both the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction and the Concordia University First Book Prize.

Drawing on the innovative work of Indigenous scholars and activists, Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada exposes how the Canadian medical establishment contributes to the displacement, colonization and genocide of Indigenous peoples. The book ​​documents the history and ongoing medical colonialism that prevent Indigenous communities from attaining health measures and social well-being.

Shaheen-Hussain is an author, activist and member of the Caring for Social Justice Collective. He has been involved in anti-authoritarian social justice movements for nearly two decades. His writings focus on state violence and health care. Shaheen-Hussain works as a pediatric emergency physician and teaches Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University.

WATCH | Shaheen-Hussain discusses systemic racism in health care:

Fighting systemic racism in the health-care system

2 years ago
Duration 5:03
Dr. Samir Shaheen-Hussain on his book Fighting for a Hand to Hold, and his efforts to fight medical colonialism in Quebec.

Polak's novel, Room for One More, won the Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature.

Room for One More tells the story of a young war refugee, Issac, joining the family of 12-year-old Rosetta. Isaac's arrival brings change to Rosetta's life. As they become friends and Issac shares his story with her, Rosetta helps him learn and envision a new future in Canada.

Polak is a novelist who has published more than 17 YA books. She won the QWF children's and young adult literature awards in 2009 and 2014. Her books include What World Is Left, The Taste of Rain and Planet Grief. Polak was the first ever CBC/QWF Writer-in-Residence.

LISTEN | Monique Polak discusses her role as CBC Montreal's writer-in-residence:

Monique Polak is the author of several young Adult books, a freelance journalist, and teacher. She now is the first ever CBC-QWF Writer in Residence. Polak be writing monthy stories for CBC Montreal online from now until April.

The Cole Foundation Prize for Translation went to I Am a Damn Savage; What Have You Done to My Country? by Sarah Henzi, translated from the French novel by Antane Kapesh.

Sarah Venart's poetry collection, I Am the Big Heart, won the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry.

Love Like Water, Love Like Fire by Mikhail Iossel is the winner of The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.

The winner for each category will receive $3,000.

The Quebec Writers' Federation is a non-profit organization that aims to support, connect and inspire English writers in Quebec.

The 2020 winners included Dominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough, Possess the Air by Taras Grescoe and The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay.

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