on the Verge Writing Contest


What is on the Verge ?

on the Verge Writing Contest showcases and celebrates emerging UVic student voices with an annual theme under the broad rubric of equity, diversity and human rights. As a reformulation of the 10-year running Diversity Writing Awards, we carry forward the spirit of diversity under a broader umbrella and with a renewed spirit of creative exploration. The contest is co-sponsored by UVic Libraries and Equity and Human Rights (EQHR) with significant support from other units on campus.

Discovering the Stories Within Us

A writing workshop with Monique Gray Smith

March 17, 2021
2pm - 4pm
Register here: otvcontest@uvic.ca
Space is limited to 20 participants

Everyone has a story – this is a dynamic workshop to get your creative juices flowing and a way for self-exploration and discovery. For generations upon generations, it has been our artists who have been the catalysts for healing and wellness. This storytelling/writing workshop will begin with ceremony. This is an integral aspect of honouring and being grateful for the stories that are within us and the ones that will be revealed. Monique will share her journey of how she captures ideas and turns them into stories; including a few readings from her books. We will then move into working with various prompts that can start the writing to flow. There will be time spent focusing on character creation, environment description and effective use of dialogue. The activities are designed to foster creative expression and a sense pride and confidence in writing. 

Our contest is now closed. Thank you to all who entered.  Winners will be notified by email by March 12, 2021.

Writing Contest guidelines:
    • Entries to the writing categories must be attached as a Word or PDF document
    • Entries to the spoken word category must be attached as an audio or video file
    • Do not include your name or student number in your written submission; use the required entry form
  • In the body of your email, include the following information:
      • Full name
      • Student number
      • Title of submission
      • Category
      • Preferred contact email address
  • Enter one of the four categories below:

    • Poetry (150 lines maximum)
    • Fiction (1500 words maximum)
    • Non-fiction (1500 words maximum)
    • Spoken Word (3-minute maximum - video or audio file formats accepted)
  • Open to UVic students only
  • Only one entry per student will be accepted
  • Graphic novel/comic formats will be accepted
  • Visual and graphic works are eligible
  • Submissions must be original and unpublished

The 2021 celebrity judge is Monique Gray Smith
Monique Gray Smith is a proud Mom of teenage twins and an award-winning, best-selling author. Her first published novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience won the 2014 Canadian Burt Award for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Literature. Since then, Monique has had 7 books come out, including Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation which as a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. In the fall of 2019, every child in Canada entering grade one received a copy of the dual language, English/French and Cree edition of My Heart Fills with Happiness. Monique’s new children’s book, When We Are Kind has received positive reviews and landed on the BC Bestseller List before being officially released. In 2019, Monique received the City of Victoria Leadership Award for Reconciliation. She is appointed member of the Board of Directors of Royal Roads University and the Minister’s Advisory Council for Indigenous Women for the Government of BC. Monique is Cree, Lakota and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 29 years. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience. 



The 2021 theme is RESILIENCE.

Theme: Resilience is a capability many are seeking to help them make it through turbulent times. What constitutes resilience? How can we practice resilience in relation to decolonization and reconciliation, to the pandemic, to oppression and marginalization, and to our current global political arena? How can we bear the challenges of our times and recover from them to build new bonds of strength, hope and courage?

Tell us what resilience means to you!

Judging criteria

All entries will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Excellence and proficiency in writing and technique
  • Engagement with the theme in a meaningful way
  • Awareness of equity, diversity and human rights dimensions related to the theme
  • Fit within the word/time limits for submission


Contest winners will receive the following:

  • Cash prize in each category: $250 first place; $150 second place
  • Award certificate
  • Winning entries will be published on the UVic Libraries website, in DSpace (UVic Libraries' open access institutional repository) and highlighted on other UVic sites, including EQHR
  • Free enrollment in a workshop with Monique Gray Smith in 2021 (TBA)

Contact us

For more information email .

Thank you, sponsors!

A big thank you to the UVic Libraries, Equity and Human Rights (EQHR), VPAC and our fabulous Faculty and Departmental sponsors: Business, Continuing Studies, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Humanities, Human and Social Development, Law, Science, Social Sciences & the UVic Writing Department.