2019 Hosts & Judges

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Meet our 24 Semifinalists!

Buy tickets to the National Finals show on April 25 @ 7pm in Winnipeg or watch the live stream on our website.

Finals Hosts

On April 25 at 7pm, the top 9 finalists will compete for $25,000 in prizes for themselves and their school libraries. Rosanna Deerchild and J.R. Léveillé will be our hosts for the evening.

Rosanna Deerchild is an award-winning author and veteran broadcaster. Her poetry collection this is a small northern town won the 2009 Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. Her second book, calling down the sky, is her mother’s residential school survivor story. She is co-founder and member of the Indigenous Writers Collective of Manitoba and has contributed to numerous Indigenous newspapers. She currently hosts the CBC Radio show, Unreserved, a radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation. A Cree from O-Pipon-Na-Piwan Cree Nation at South Indian Lake in northern Manitoba, Rosanna now lives and works in her found home of the North End of Winnipeg.


Roger Léveillé (b. 1945), a francophone poet and writer from Western Canada, highlights the diversity of the francophone world and the complexity of multiculturalism in his writing. A radio and television journalist at Radio-Canada and director of the “Rouge” collection, which promotes the publication of new authors, Léveillé is considered the leader of new French writing outside of Quebec.


Semifinals Host

On April 24, 24 students in the French, Bilingual, and English Streams will compete for the 9 coveted places at the National Finals. Our host for these events will be Johanne Blais.

Johanne Blais

Johanne Blais is a word maven. She is a trained translator, as well as a professor of writing and grammar, and a public speaker. Perfectly bilingual and a passionate admirer of the languages of both Shakespeare and Molière, Johanne Blais spent 17 years sharing her passion each week with thousands of Canadians as CBC Radio C’est la vie’s “Word Lady,” through her language segment “Word of the Week.” Johanne Blais’s sparkle and humour combine with her gift for explaining words in their individual daily context. She teaches with great warmth and a smile in her voice. Her love for French has also led her to write engaging columns on the breadth and variety of French as it is spoken in Canada. Johanne Blais has been hosting several National Finals since 2013 and also serves on our board.


A professor in the French studies department at Université de Saint-Boniface, Lise Gaboury-Diallo has written seven books of poetry and two short story collections since 1999. In 2004, she won Radio-Canada’s Literary Prize for poetry for her book Homestead, poèmes du cœur de l’Ouest (2005). Her book L’endroit et l’envers won the Rue-Deschambeault prize in 2009. Lointaines, nouvelles, shortlisted for Radio-Canada Reads 2011, received honourable mention for the Émile-Ollivier Prize and won the Rue-Deschambeault Prize in 2011. Her short story collection Les enfants de Tantale (2011) was included in a shortlist of six books considered for Radio-Canada Reads 2012. Her most recent books of poetry, Confessions sans pénitence, illustrated by Denis Devigne, and Empreintes (poésie) were published by Éditions du Blé.


Pierre Nepveu taught literature at Université de Montréal for thirty years. Poet, novelist, and essay writer, Professor Nepveu has published close to twenty books, including several collections of essays and poetry. Three of his books of poetry have earned Governor General’s Literary Awards. He is also the author, with Laurent Mailhot, of La poésie québécoise des origines à nos jours, a much-loved Quebec poetry anthology. Pierre Nepveu was involved in collecting the scattered works of poet Gaston Miron and is also the author of Miron’s biography, Gaston Miron. La vie d’un homme, published in 2011. Pierre Nepveu has received both the Athanase-David prize in Quebec and the Order of Canada for his life’s work. In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


On Musqueam-, Squamish-, and Tsleil-Waututh-land, Cecily Nicholson has worked in the downtown eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver for nineteen years — most recently as Administrator of the artist-run centre and mental health resource, Gallery Gachet. A part of the Joint Effort prison abolitionist group and a member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Cecily is the newly appointed Interpretive Programmer at the Surrey Art Gallery. She is the author of Triage, From the Poplars, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and Wayside Sang, winner of the Governor General's award for poetry.

Cecily's preferred poetic subjects include place and movement based works that work across scale. Her style interests are broadly influenced by music and lyric, language poetry, and community praxis. 


Jason Stefanik is a second-generation adoptee raised in Manitoba’s Interlake. He currently resides in Winnipeg’s North End. He is a founding member of neither/neither, a creative collective at the Edge Gallery in Winnipeg’s inner city, and also facilitated a small poetry workshop for inmates at Stony Mountain Penitentiary. His poems have appeared in tart, Misunderstandings Magazine, Grain, Nashwaak Review, Arc, and Prairie Fire. He is the recipient of the 2015 Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award and his book of poetry, Night Became Years, was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award. He's currently writing a sequence of poems on cryptography and often asks himself, "What would Auden do?"


Michaël Trahan was born in 1984 and was raised in Acton Vale, in the Montérégie region of Québec, before moving to Montréal in the early 2000s. He has published two books of poetry with Le Quartanier: La raison des fleurs, which won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry, and Nœud coulant, which was awarded the prix Émile-Nelligan, the Prix du Festival de la poésie de Montréal, and the prix Alain-Grandbois de l’Académie des lettres du Québec. He also wrote La postérité du scandale (Nota bene, 2017), a book on how Sade's work has been received, and a doctoral thesis on the readability of literature in the field of contemporary French poetry. He is the literary editor of Estuaire magazine. 


Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her novel, The Break (House of Anansi) was bestseller in Canada and won multiple awards, including the 2017 Amazon.ca First Novel Award. Her second book of poetry, river woman (House of Anansi) was released in the fall of 2018. She is also the author of the children's picture book series, The Seven Teachings Stories (Highwater Press) and the young adult graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo (Highwater Press). And, along with a whole team of talented filmmakers, she co-wrote and co-directed the short doc, this river (NFB) which won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Short and the coup de coeur at the Montreal's First Peoples Festival. Vermette lives with her family in a cranky old house within skipping distance of the temperamental Red River.


2019 National Finals Hosts and Judges
2019 National Finals Hosts and Judges