Somali-born Ontario Poet and Alberta Arts Chaplain Win Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing

Somali-born Ontario Poet and Alberta Arts Chaplain Win Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing

Two vibrant young Canadians are now the first ever winners of the Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing – a Faith in Canada 150 project, backed by think tank Cardus.

Rowda Mohamud, a Somali-born Canadian-Muslim poet from Oakville ON took home a $10,000 prize for her suite of poems entitled Please Find Yourself a Space.

Rowda Mohamud


Brandon Trotter, a writer, director, actor, playwright, and arts chaplain from Calgary, AB takes home the $10,000 prize for his short story, Saint 148.

Brandon Trotter

Shane Nielson, a poet, physician, literary critic, and PhD candidate at McMaster University won the $2,500 prize as runner-up in the poetry category for his suite, Loss Sonnets. Susan Fish, a writer and editor from Waterloo, ON took home the $2,500 prize as short story runner-up for Easter Water.

The work of the winners and runners-up will be featured in an anthology to be published in 2018.

News anchor Farah Nasser served as master of ceremonies for the Mitchell Prize awards reception at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum on October 31st, with Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke and St. Michael’s College Principal Randy Boyagoda lending their literary prowess to the event.

“The judges carefully weighed the high volume of submissions and managed to reach consensus on a shortlist, runner up, and winner for each category,” said Doug Sikkema, Mitchell Prize project lead. “And while we will take the requisite time to celebrate these folks, I should acknowledge that the many unknown writers, perhaps some who saw the prize advertised and decided to pick up a pen and paper for the first time, are what make this prize a real success. Our hope was, and continues to be, that the vital role religion plays for so many Canadians today will be shared, not suppressed.”

The Mitchell Prize was designed to give voice to Canadians who recognize and write about the powerful truth, goodness, and beauty that faith brings to Canadian culture. More specifically, this award calls attention to our poets and short story writers from all across this nation whose faith animates their imagination and ours.

An august panel of judges evaluated around 250 entries to the Mitchell Prize.

Judging the short story category were:

  • Dr. Randy Boyagoda, Principal and Vice President of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto
  • Susan Lynn Reynolds, award-winning writer and novelist
  • Dr. David Staines, Professor of English at the University of Ottawa

Judging the poetry suite category were:

    • George Elliott Clarke, 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17) and 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-2015)
    • Dr. Deborah Bowen, Professor Emerita of English at Redeemer University
    • Dr. Todd Swift, Writer-in-residence for Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, England

Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, social cities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S. To learn more, visit: and follow us on Twitter @cardusca.

Faith in Canada 150 is a program of Cardus that exists to celebrate the role of faith in our life together during Canada’s anniversary celebrations in 2017. For more than 450 years, faith has shaped the human landscape of Canada. It has shaped how we live our lives, how we see our neighbours, how we fulfill our social responsibilities, and how we imagine our life together. To learn more, visit: