RELEASE: Shelly Kawaja wins the 2022 BMO Winterset Award

Mar 30, 2023


March 30, 2023 (St. John’s, NL) – Shelly Kawaja is the winner of the 2022 BMO Winterset Award for her novel, The Raw Light of Morning. The award, which celebrates excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing, was presented today at a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s.

The two other finalists were Lisa Moore for This is How We Love (House of Anansi Press, Toronto, ON) and Meghan Greeley for Hunger (Breakwater Books, St. John’s, NL).

The BMO Winterset Award is managed by ArtsNL, but is a partnership made possible through the generous support from BMO Financial Group, the Sandra Fraser Gwyn Foundation, and Carol Bishop Gwyn, widow of the project’s founder, writer Richard Gwyn, O.C. The prize awarded to the annual winner is $12,500, while the finalists each receive $3,000. It is one of Atlantic Canada’s richest literary prizes.

The Raw Light of Morning (Breakwater Books, St. John’s, NL) is one of 40 works by Newfoundland and Labrador authors (either native-born or resident) that were submitted by publishers from across the country. Books in any genre, published in 2021, were eligible. The jury consisted of Douglas Walbourne-Gough, Carmella Gray-Cosgrove, and Mary-Deanne Shears.

The BMO Winterset Award honours the memory of Sandra Fraser Gwyn, St. John’s-born social historian and prize-winning author, who did so much to promote a national awareness of the arts of this province. Her husband, journalist and author Richard Gwyn, O.C., established the award in 2000. It is named after the historic house on Winter Avenue in St. John’s where Sandra grew up.

Shelly Kawaja is the author of The Raw Light of Morning. Her work has appeared in several magazines such as Horseshoe Literary Magazine, The Humber Literary Review, The Dalhousie Review, and PACE. She was long listed for the Bridge Prize, the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fresh Fish Award, and won the GritLIT short fiction contest. Shelly is a creative writing student in the University of British Columbia’s optional residency MFA program, and a graduate of The Humber School for Writers and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She lives in Corner Brook with her family

Media enquiries:
Charlene Jackson
Communications Officer



The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (now known as ArtsNL) is a non-profit Crown agency created in 1980 by The Arts Council Act. Its mission is to foster and promote the creation and enjoyment of the arts for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The Council is governed by a volunteer board of 13 appointed by government, reflecting regional representation of the province. This includes 10 professional artists who provide sectoral representation of the arts community; two community representatives (with an interest in the arts); and one representative of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation (non-voting). ArtsNL receives an annual allocation of $5 million from the Province to support a variety of granting programs, program delivery, office administration, and communications. It also seeks support from the public and private sector. It supports the following artistic disciplines: dance, film, multidiscipline, music, theatre, visual art, and writing.


Apply Online

Gain access to grants, awards, and more.
Learn More