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The Writers' Trust Rising Stars program is a dynamic career development initiative that recognizes five Canadian authors at the onset of their careers who are poised to produce exceptional and enduring creative work. Rising Stars are selected, endorsed, and mentored by five prominent Canadian authors. The program is generously supported by presenting sponsor BMO Financial Group and five founding program sponsors: Margaret Atwood, Jim Balsillie, and Clair Duff in memory of Catherine Shepard. 

In addition to the mentorship opportunity with their selector, each Rising Star receives $5,000 and access to a series of career development and networking events. Thanks to Writers’ Trust’s partnership with Artscape Gibraltar Point, 2023 Rising Stars will attend a two-week, self-directed writing residency. 

Writers' Trust Rising Stars mentorships are tailored to each pair of writers and can take many forms, including manuscript review, in-depth conversations on the craft of writing, concept consultation on works in development, and important introductions to agents and editors. Rising Stars and their mentors have the flexibility to negotiate how to allot their mentorship hours, taking into consideration individual needs, the status of current works-in-progress, and mentors’ strengths and experience.

2023 Writers’ Trust Rising Stars

Presenting Sponsor



Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
“Canada has much new and undiscovered writing talent. I’m proud to support a program that will champion the next generation of literary voices, many of which are now just beginning to be heard.”

Jim Balsillie

Jim Balsillie
Jim Balsillie is the former chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), a technology company he scaled from an idea to $20 billion in sales globally. His long-standing interest in and support of public policy initiatives in Canada include serving as an advisor to Canada School of Public Policy, creating and funding the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Balsillie School of International Affairs, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Centre for Digital Rights, and the CIO Strategy Council. He was the private sector representative on the UN Secretary General’s High Panel for Sustainability. He is member of the Board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Advisory Board of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. His awards include: Mobile World Congress Lifetime Achievement Award, Canadian Business Hall of Fame, Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People, and three times Barron’s list of “World’s Top CEOs.”

Clair Duff in memory of Catherine Shepard

Clair Duff in memory of Catherine Shepard
“Catherine’s work as an archivist focused on the past, where this gift in her memory focuses on the future. There’s lovely symmetry in that. Catherine was an aspiring writer, and recognition like this in the critical early days might have been the boost she needed to devote herself to writing full time. As most of my work is in leadership development, identifying new talent on the horizon merges both of our values with great meaning.

Catherine would be truly chuffed to know she continues to make a lasting impact, a lasting difference on Canadian writing. In this honour, her voice lives on.”

John Terry and Lisa Rochon

John Terry and Lisa Rochon
“Writers build worlds that challenge us to do deep dives into our humanity. They replace old glasses with fresh lenses and shock us into seeing the past and the future with staggering insights. They give us empathy. More imagination. More reason to dare. Less chatbot. And we're happy to support all of that.”


Thanks to Writers’ Trust’s program partnership with Artscape Gibraltar Point, each Rising Star will also attend a two-week, self-directed writing residency.