The 2023 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Writers: Screenwriting

The 2023 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship in Screenwriting has been awarded to Victoria Platel.

A call for applications for the 2024 mentorship will be issued in the fall of 2023.

The Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship, which is a component of QWF’s Fresh Pages initiative, is designed to help an aspiring writer or playwright working in English who is Indigenous, Black, or a person of colour to develop their literary writing.

The selected writer will also receive a free one-year membership in QWF.

Image courtesy of Sarsfield’s granddaughter, Zinzi de Silva

Mairuth Sarsfield (1925-2013) was born and raised in the Little Burgundy district of Montreal. She achieved distinction in every arena she entered: as a best-selling novelist and a journalist; working for Canada’s External Affairs Department at home and abroad; serving as press secretary for the Canadian delegation to the United Nations and as a senior information officer for the United Nations Environment Programme based in Nairobi, Kenya. She also served on the Board of Directors of the CBC. Among the many awards and honours she received are the Chevalier à l’Ordre National du Quebec, the National Congress of Black Women Foundation’s First Literary Award for her novel No Crystal Stair, and the declaration of “Mairuth Sarsfield Day” by the City of Cleveland for her work on the “For Every Child a Tree” environmental campaign, which led to thousands of tree-planting projects around the world.

These accomplishments were nothing short of remarkable for any woman in twentieth-century North America. The fact that Mairuth Sarsfield achieved them, and more, as a Black woman, ensures her role as an inspiration for all future generations of young people from marginalized communities. With this mentorship program, the Quebec Writers’ Federation is proud to shine a spotlight on Ms. Sarsfield’s life and contributions to her city, her country, and the world.


  • Applicants must live in Quebec, write in English, and be Indigenous, Black, or a person of colour.
  • Applicants should have already demonstrated an interest in creative writing and have at least one or two literary works finished or in progress.
  • Applicants must be able to devote at least 10 hours a week to their writing during the months of February to May 2023.
  • There is no age or publication requirement.
  • Writers currently in a graduate writing program or already working with a professional editor or publisher are not eligible to apply.


  • Call for applications: September 2022
  • Deadline for applications: October 14, 2022 (extended to October 26, 2022)
  • Notification of results: December 2022
  • Mentorship period: February to May 2023
  • Public reading: June 2023

How to Apply:

Send the following to or mail it to or drop it off in the QWF office (address below).

  • a cover letter describing the writing you’ve done so far and how the mentorship would make a difference in your writing life (maximum one page);
  • a 5- to 10-page sample of your writing drawn from one or two works in progress, at least one of which should be the screenwriting project you want to work on with the mentor;
  • a short statement about your background and writing experience, including the reason you are eligible for this initiative;
  • your full name and a way to contact you.

Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship
Quebec Writers’ Federation
1200 Atwater Ave., Suite 3
Westmount, QC  H3Z 1X4

The 2023 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentor

Photo credit: David Blanchard

Egyptian-born Alain Zaloum is a veteran television writer/director of factual programs as well as several award-winning feature films. He was co-creator and writer of the acclaimed Netflix true-crime series Real Detective and the award-winning CBC series The Detectives, for which he was twice-nominated for a CSA as best writer. Zaloum attended the University of Southern California, earning a BA in Film and TV production. He studied under screenwriting guru Bob McKee, but he admits it was noted American writer/journalist Norman Corwin whose encouragement led him to becoming a screenwriter. He is a member of the WGC, DGC, QWF, BIPOC TV & FILM, and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. His website is:

The 2023 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentee

Victoria Platel is a poet, filmmaker and art writer based in Tio’tia:ke/Montreal. As a Franco-Ontarian with a Haitian background, she never knows what to answer when asked about her first language. Her poetry is concerned with beauty in all its forms, the plasticity of language, and the music of speech. The audiovisual medium is where she experiments in the craft of cinematic storytelling, extending an invitation to compelling character studies. She is interested in experimental art writing that blends genres, incorporating poetic writing, visual culture, and post-colonial theory.

2022 Program – Non-fiction

Jurors: Rana Bose, Randy Kritkausky, Anahita Jamali Rad

Mentor: Tara McGowan-Ross

Mentee: Chanel M. Sutherland

2021 Program – Fiction

Jurors: Oonya Kempadoo, Dimitri Nasrallah, Robert Edison Sandiford

Mentor: H. Nigel Thomas

Mentee: Lynda Bailey

2020 Program – Poetry

Jurors: Tanya Evanson, Kaie Kellough, H. Nigel Thomas

Mentor: Gillian Sze

Mentee: Faith Paré

As the mentorship draws to a close, I reflect on all I’ve learned in these past four months. Tara has been so generous with her time as a mentor, friend, therapist, comedian, philosopher, marketing expert, and career advisor – there was no topic off-limit. Tara was always ready and willing to help me with whatever writing-related task that was at hand, and each time we met was a rich, energetic experience that added to my craft and overall confidence as a writer. I genuinely believe I struck gold with this mentorship, and I am so grateful to work with Tara. 

Chanel M. Sutherland, 2022 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentee