In Canada, there is a dominant mainstream media narrative that offers a single, simplistic, politically biased view to represent all people of colour on the most important political and cultural issues. However, true diversity includes diversity of thought, and in this respect, minority communities are as diverse as any other communities in our country.

This essay competition is an opportunity for students across Canada to challenge the dominant mainstream narrative on race and racism in Canada. Reflecting from a place of personal experience is encouraged and, in doing so, a successful essay will exemplify true diversity – the diversity of thought – in our country.

This is to say, the winning essay will be one that provides a unique and compelling argument or commentary on issues of race, racism, and diversity – the kind of argument you might not read in the opinion sections of Canada’s major papers or in a university classroom.

The winning essay will be published in MLI’s Inside Policy magazine and will receive a cash prize of $1500.


  • The contest is open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or international students whose time in Canada has or will exceed 1 year, aged 25 and younger, who are enrolled in or are attending an accredited secondary or post-secondary institution in 2021 or 2022.
  • Essay submissions must be written in English and be between 750-1000 words in total.
  • Only one submission will be accepted per participant. Only the first submission will be accepted.
  • All essays must be original works submitted solely to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
  • By participating in this contest, you agree that the Macdonald-Laurier Institute retains full and exclusive rights to any future publication of your submission.
  • Eligible submissions will only include those submissions received before 11:59pm ET on November 29, 2021.


  • Essays will be judged based on their creativity, writing quality, clarity, originality, rigour, thoughtfulness, and overall impression. Judges will include a diverse panel of experts. The Macdonald-Laurier Institute reserves the sole right to select the winning essay or to cancel the contest or otherwise not award a winner
  • Citations are encouraged but not necessarily required. For those who include citations, no particular citation style is required.
  • Personal experience informing the content of the essay is encouraged.
  • No information included in the submission will be shared with any 3rd party; only those responsible for the management of the contest or the judging of submissions will review submission information. This excludes of course the winning submission.
  • The winning entry will be selected in the winter 2021-2022. Due to the high volume of entries, only individuals who are considered finalists will be contacted.
  • The winning entry may be subject to further edits before publication.
  • For further guidance, participants are encouraged to read articles in the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Inside Policy Magazine or to attend the October 6th writing workshop for participants.


  • Submission must include the full essay in one document. Accepted formats include Word and PDF.
  • Submissions must include a cover page that has the full legal name of the author, any relevant titles and affiliations, and the title of the essay. This information should be included in the same document as the submission. The author’s name or identifying information should not appear elsewhere in the document itself.
  • Submissions must include relevant contact and mailing information, including preferred email address, phone number, mailing address. This information can be included in either the essay cover page, the email submission, or in an accompanying document.
  • Submissions must include a headshot image to accompany the piece. Valid image formats include JPG and PNG. This image should be included as an attachment on the email submission.
  • Submissions must include links to any public-facing social media accounts associated with the author. These include Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and any other accounts that are available to be viewed by the public. This information can be included in either the essay cover page, the email submission, or in an accompanying document.
  • Proof of enrollment at a Canadian educational institution may be requested. The author of the winning essay may be required to provide additional information to prove their identity or to facilitate the transfer of the $1500 prize winnings.


  • All submissions must be sent via email to
  • All submissions must be complete when submitted; those that lack required items may be rendered ineligible.
  • Submissions should include reference to the “Speak for Ourselves Essay Contest” in the email subject line.

For a clarification or for further information regarding the competition, please contact:

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