Writing Contest: Birth Stories 2021
June 1st to August 1st
Birth Sharing Circle on Zoom
October 30th, 2 p.m. (EST)
A celebration of birthers, writers and maternity care professionals.
Come and meet the writers, jurors and readers.
LAUREATES OF THE DSF’S BIRTH STORY WRITING CONTEST 2021
We are amazed and humbled by all the birth stories we have received and must say that the readers and jurors had a difficult job to do. We want to thank all participants who have submitted a birth story. We feel every single story is important and they have been read as such.
However, this is not only a birth story sharing event, but also a writing contest.
Let’s hear a drum roll… the first three places and the 14 honourable mentions winners are:
The first-place laureate is:
Jennifer Ashton from Vancouver, BC
The title of her story is Dear Diary – October 1979
She won a $200 prize. Her story will be published on September 15th, 2021 here and in the Kingstonist.
The jury settled to offer two second places as both stories were equally appreciated.
The second-place laureates are:
Tanya Bellehumeur/Allatt from Hatley, QC
The title of her story is Winter Rose
Alison Milan from Ottawa
The title of her story is Mama Fits
They both won a $100 prize and will be published on the DSF here on September 8th, 2021
The third-place laureate is
Marlowe Dibb from Vancouver
The title of their story is A Whole New Journey
They won a $50 prize and you can enjoy reading their story now.
The honourable mentions are:
(We will publish one story per week.)
Michele Barnes from Markham, ON
Bringing Natural Birthing Back
Rachelle Campbell from Kingston, ON
Finding Solace in Our Home
Karen Clarke from Mount Pearl, NL
Let Me Tell You About Your Birth
Roya Chalaki from Calgary, AB
Ruth Daniell from Kelowna, BC
Hannah Day from Kelowna, BC
More Beautiful than the Bright Snow
Leslie Harris from Barrie, ON
In the Dark
Tao Hipwell from North Kingston, ON
To Carry The Cure
Marla Le from Kingston, ON
Business Trip Baby
Rayya Liebich from Nelson, BC
Cesarean Birth: Love, Sacrifice, and Surrender
Maria Manecuta from Windsor, ON
Embracing and Accepting the Unknowns...
Stela Murriz from St-Cecile-De-Masham, QC
When my story became history
Bailey's Breech Birth
Ellie Reynolds from Gray Creek, BC
From the Orgasmic to the Emergency:
two birth stories
Emmanuelle Quiviger from Montréal, QC
Elena Martinez from Toronto, ON
Let Me Tell you About Your Birth
by Karen Clarke
Karen Clarke (she/her) grew up in rural Newfoundland, the ancestral homeland of the Beothuk, and now lives in Mount Pearl, NL, with her husband and son. She is a social worker interested in the connection between maternal health and population wellbeing and currently works as a policy analyst. She loves to write and is working toward writing being a more prominent part of her life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
de Emmanuelle Quiviger
Emmanuelle Quiviger est mère de quatre enfants incroyables. Il s'agit là de son métier le plus important. Elle a également obtenu une maîtrise en interprétation de la flûte traversière à l'Université de Montréal, en 2000. Au lieu de travailler à la conception ou à l'adoption de son cinquième enfant, elle est devenue accompagnante à la naissance en 2012. Elle est depuis trois ans coordonnatrice aux accompagnements chez Alternative Naissance, organisme communautaire montréalais qui soutient les nouvelles et futures familles.
Dear Diary - October 1979
by Jennifer Ashton
Jenn Ashton is an Award-winning author and visual artist. Her book of Short Stories, People Like Frank and Other Stories from the Edge of Normal (TidewaterPress 2020) is shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award (2021). Jenn was a Teaching Assistant in the Simon Fraser University's Writer's Studio and is now studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Professional Education. She is currently the Writer in Residence at the British Columbia History Magazine.
by Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt
Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt is a mother of four. Her fiction, essays and poems have appeared in Best Canadian Essays 2019 and Best Canadian Essays 2015, The New Quarterly, Grain, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Malahat Review, subTerrain, carte blanche, Antigonish Review, Queens Quarterly and Room, among other publications. She holds an MA from McGill University and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Tanya is the author of the poetry collection Chaos Theories of Goodness (Shoreline, 2021) and Peacekeeper’s Daughter: A Middle East Memoir (Thistledown, 2021).
Read more about Tanya and her writing at https://tanyaallattbellehumeur.com/
by Alison Milan
Alison Milan (she/they) lives on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin Anishnaabeg territory with their partner, daughter, and two cats. Her interest in birth and desire to empower to-be parents of all sorts sparked a desire to share the story of her daughter’s birth. Alison loves to explore food and the great outdoors, studied Geography and Education at York University, and works as a Policy Analyst with Natural Resources Canada.
A whole new journey
by Marlowe Dibb
Marlowe Dibb is a writer, thinker, dreamer and therapist. They live on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. They have a passion for supporting mental health within marginalized communities. In their spare time they might be camping in the forest, baking a pie, or writing a children’s song about feelings.
is professor at Queen’s University. Dr. Lawford is an Aboriginal midwife (Namegosibiing, Lac Seul First Nation, Treaty 3) and a Registered midwife (Ontario). Her research focuses on comprehensive, gender-inclusive sexual and reproductive healthcare for Indigenous Peoples with a particular focus on the provision of maternity care for those who live on reserve.
is a postpartum doula that services within the GTA area. She prefers helping her clients with overnights services to make the transition go a little smoother. She is a proud mother of 3 adult children and new mom to her cats Shaq and Kobe. Debbie is also a co-founder of Ontario Black Doula Society (OBDS) with 6 other brilliant doulas.
Whitney French is a writer, multidisciplinary artist and publisher. She edited the award winning anthology Black Writers Matter a collection of creative nonfiction. She is a self-described Black futurist, middle child- trouble maker and the co-founder of Hush Harbour, the only Black queer feminist press in Canada. Currently, she lives in Toronto.
Leah Mol is a writer and editor. Her work won the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize and the 2020 Bronwen Wallace Award, and her first novel is forthcoming from Doubleday Canada in 2022. Leah holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Now based in Toronto, she lives with her partner and a very anxious cat.
Marie-Pierre is a midwife and has been working in Hamilton for 8 years. She has a particular interest in working with immigrant and francophone women. She is often accompanied by a mentoring student. Her favourite part of her job is accompanying the same woman through several pregnancies and watching the family grow. She is the mother of a five-year-old and trains for triathlons in her spare time.
was born in 1986 in Damascus and has roots in Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. Lamara is multilingual and has lived in Georgia, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Canada. While continuing to write novels, she facilitates writing workshops in Ontario schools for the Read Ontario program. She has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts to write her novels. Her novel, Adieu Staline! will be published by Éditions du Gref in the summer of 2021. Une adolescente en exil (under the pseudonym Lamara Sagaradzé) was published by Éditions du Gref in 2017.
When not running around with her two young kidlets, Ashley’s attending births as a doula, writing custom lullabies for new babies, out on a paddleboard, or flying planes at the local airport. She is a member of the BC Doula Services Association, and serves on the board of the Tantalus Wellspring Society, a charity that assists those experiencing barriers in accessing mental wellness therapies. As last year’s first-place laureate, Ash is both excited and honoured to be a reader on the Doula Support Foundation's Birth Story Writing Contest.
Leah lives in rural Eastern Ontario. She works as a Midwife. She and her family live in a tiny house that they built on their families land. She loves reading, cooking and anything outdoors.
Lori is a writer and teacher from Stoney Creek, Ontario. She placed second in the Doula Support Foundation's 2020 Birth Story contest. Her essays have appeared in The Hamilton Review of Books, The New Quarterly, and The Humber Literary Review. You can connect with her on Twitter @sebastianl74 and on Instagram @sebastianlwrites and read more of her work at https://lorisebastianutti.com.
Flavia is an engineer who, by becoming a mother, discovered a new universe. A universe that she travels guided by her two children. Motherhood taught her that tribes are indispensable to keep going. That is why in 2020 she became, through Alternative Naissance, a postnatal companion. Sharing stories, moments, joys, and sorrows in such a chaotically happy moment as postpartum is healing ... Listening (in the case of this contest, reading) is extremely powerful."
Writing Contest: Birth Stories Guidelines
The Doula Support Foundation (DSF) is all about celebrating the power of those who birth. And just as birth is a transformative experience, so is storytelling. The intention of the birth story contest is to get inspiring birth stories that cultivate a positive and supportive birth culture in our communities. It is also a writing contest because well- written stories have the ability to make us feel and understand deep emotions like no other medium.
Contest open June 1st, 2021
Deadline: August 1st, 2021
Prizes and Publications
The first-place winner will receive:
$200 cash prize
Will be published on DSF’s website
The second-place winner will receive:
$100 cash prize
Will be published on DSF’s website
The third-place winner will receive:
$50 cash prize
Will be published on DSF’s website
The 15 English and 10 French honorable mention stories will be published on the DSF website.
The intention is to publish a book with the winning stories in English and in French of the 2021 winners of the contest. We will translate the stories, so we can publish one book in French and one in English with all the stories.
What we are looking for:
We are welcoming many different voices and perspectives which are representative of the population of Canada. We wish to be able to share all kinds of births, in different settings with different health care providers and support teams in different eras. We welcome stories written by partners too (with permission of the birther).
A Birth Story (no more than 2000 words) that:
highlights the beauty, the intensity, and the uniqueness of birth experiences;
challenges the unrealistic portrayals of birth we see on television, in film, and in forums across the internet that foment fear;
speaks to the birthing person’s power, capacity, and resilience and offers a powerful and realistic portrayal of what birth can be;
offers a different perspective, is stigma breaking, or promotes solidarity between birthers;
for those whose birth experience was not positive, is written in a way that captures one’s birth with emotion and honesty, and speaks to either one’s own healing process postpartum and/or how the person could have been better cared for in their experience.
How to submit your birth story
Submit your birth story at email@example.com
Please specify “Birth Story Contest + your name” in the Subject line of the email.
Submit your story in a Word document, filename should be the title of your story.
Your name should not appear in the Word document to ensure the objectivity of the readers and jurors.
Include the following information in the email: name, title of your story, address, phone number, e-mail address, a short biography (75 words) and where did you learn about the contest.
All work must be original (not plagiarized or taken from anyone else) and have permission from the birthing person send to us by email (i.e., if you are a partner, or a support person sharing your story, you must have permission from the birthing person in order to submit your story).
**Once an entry has been submitted, no edits, replacements or exchanges will be accepted. No entry will be accepted after August 1st, 2021.
Who can participate?
All those residing in Canada (irrespective of visa status), novice or experienced writers, who want to share a birth story.
Works are judged anonymously based on the story writing. (the jurors and readers won’t see the name of the author)
Submissions are processed by a two-tiered system in both languages (English, French) by readers and jurors.
The birth stories are read by readers who are from the maternity care field and the writing world. Each birth story is read by two readers.
The readers come up with a long list, one in French, one in English, which will be forwarded to the respective jury.
The English and French juries will read all stories on the longlist and decide on the first three-place winners and the honorable mentions.
Announcement of winners
Winners will be announced on September 1st, 2021 on the Doula Support Foundation website, Facebook and Instagram page.
Only the first three prizewinners and the honorable mention recipients will be notified personally by email.
Birth Sharing Circle
Winners will be invited to a Birth Sharing Circle to present their stories in October on Zoom. This is an occasion where the jurors, readers and winners can share their birth and writing experiences in a non-judgemental space. All participants and public will be invited.
The first-three place and the honorable mention stories will be first published on the Doula Support Foundation blog and then into a book.
The winning English stories will be translated in French. The winning French stories will be translated in English. The goal is to create a book in English and one in French with all the stories.
Publishing: We, the Doula Support Foundation, will be eventually be publishing the English three first place winners and the 15 honorable mention stories and the French three first-place winners and the 10 honorable mention stories in an e-book and paper book and all proceeds will go to the Doula Support Foundation. Therefore, we hold the right to translate and publish the 31 stories without paying any royalties to the authors. We thank deeply all the writers for sharing their birth stories and supporting the DSF.