Sutdent writing on paper.

 "No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it" 

- James Baldwin

Organizers of the Writing in Colour: English Grade 11 Essay Colloquium Award and the English Language and Literature Department invite grade 11 Black, Indigenous and students of colour to submit an essay of between 500 to 1000 words to the 2022 student colloquium to be held at the University of Waterloo.

Students with the top selected essays will be invited to take part in the colloquium consisting of a seminar, workshop, and tour of the school. At the event, one student’s paper will be selected to receive a $1000 prize and mentorship pairing.

This essay can be any format (narrative, descriptive, persuasive, or expository) and can discuss any aspect of this year's topic: culture.

• Why is culture important?

• How does culture provide an understanding of a community?

• How is culture celebrated?

• How is culture censored, eroded, or appropriated?

• How is cultural identity defined?

• What are the influences that impact cultural identity?

• What is dynamic about culture?

• What is static about culture?

• How can cultural awareness be improved?

The deadline to submit essays is March 1st, 2022.

Ready to submit?

Frequently Asked Questions:

• Should the paper be submitted electronically or printed and mailed?

Please submit your essay digitally. There is a submission portal on the website where you can upload your essay.

• What format should the essay be in?

Please use either .docx or .pdf format.

• What is the word count limit for the essay? Can it be under 500 words or over 1000 words?

Ideally, you want to stay as close to that word count range as possible. However, a few words under (or over) will not disqualify your paper. A references page (if your work does use references) would not count toward your word count limit.

• Can I submit more than one essay to the contest?

Submissions are limited to one entry per person.

• I’m not in Grade 11, can I still submit?

You must be registered in Grade 11 to be eligible for this award.

• Do I need to register for this award?

By submitting an entry, you will automatically be considered for the award and colloquium. Invitations to the colloquium will be sent out in April.

• Do I need to answer one of the specific questions on the website?

No. Those are just there to help generate ideas and to demonstrate the wide range of topics that fit the scope of this year’s theme. You can use the ideas to help you think about the essay, you can answer one directly, or you can talk about the theme in some other way. So long as your paper engaged with the year’s theme, it will be accepted as a valid submission.

Ready to submit?

Please direct questions to the English Department Awards Committee: Megan Selinger ( and Heather Smyth (