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Canadian High School Literacy Essay Competition

Ancient customer-feedback technology lasts millennia   …   Ever left an angry customer complaint? This 3750-year-old cuneiform tablet suggests you’re part of a very long tradition.

The clay message was sent from someone called Nanni to an Ea-nasir in ancient Mesopotamia, protesting about the low quality of copper ingots offered during a trade with Nanni’s messenger. Nanni demands that his money be returned post-haste.

“What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt?” writes a suitably enraged Nanni, according to Leo Oppenheim’s translation in Letters from Mesopotamia.


Writing Contests

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Writer Beware:   Alerts about Schemes, Scams, & Pitfalls


Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

(Let us first agree that Sir Bacon’s statement applies equally to women.)

The only way to improve writing skills is to write more.  Helpful writing exercises include:  keeping a personal journal, writing letters to family and friends, and writing letters of opinions for publication.  Writing poems, essays, family history, and short fiction can also be very helpful for focusing your attention on writing.

Resources for improving writing skills are posted on EduNorth, under:   Plain Language, Punctuation, Spelling, and Writing Resources.

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Showcase your ideas on public policy and the role of markets by entering our essay competition. $9,000 in cash prizes will be awarded with $3,000 of this is designated just for high school students! Winning essays may be published in Fraser Institute journals and authors will have the opportunity to experience the peer review process.

Categories and Prizes:

High SchoolUndergraduateGraduate
1st Prize: $1,5001st Prize: $1,5001st Prize: $1,500
2nd Prize: $1,0002nd Prize: $1,0002nd Prize: $1,000
3rd Prize: $5003rd Prize: $5003rd Prize: $500

2018 Essay Contest – Increasing the Minimum Wage: Good Intentions, Bad Policy?

The idea of raising the minimum wage in Canada and in some jurisdictions in the United States is a contentious topic.  Proponents of a higher minimum wage tout that such increase will be an effective tool for helping those in poverty.  But a recent study by the Fraser Institute found that 88% of minimum wage earners in Canada do not actually live in low-income households.  In fact, nearly 60% of these earners are young adults aged 15-24, most of whom are living with their parents or other relatives. Additionally, research has found that about 70% of the benefits from a higher wage go to non-poor households in Canada.

Beyond the misperception that the majority of the benefits from an increase in the minimum wage would go to low-income earners and the most vulnerable, raising the minimum wage has been shown to lead to reductions in employment, particularly for young people and immigrants.

While constructing your essay, consider the following questions:

  • Should provincial governments increase the minimum wage?
  • What impact would such an increase have on the Canadian economy? 
  • Is raising the minimum wage an effective way to provide assistance to vulnerable Canadians?
  • Is there an alternative to raising the minimum wage that targets low-income earners more precisely?


Submit Now

2017 Essay Contest Winners

High SchoolUndergraduateGraduate
1st Prize
Felix Hohne,
St. George's School
1st Prize
Heather Lynn Bone,
University of Waterloo
1st Prize
Andrew Klain, University of Calgary and Avery Maloney, Mount Allison University
2nd Prize
Celine Mano and Jacquie Ye,
St. Francis Secondary School
2nd Prize
Jean Philippe Fournier,
University of Montreal
2nd Prize
Andrew Canali,
Memorial University
3rd Prize
Claudia Cristescu,
Mountainside Secondary School
3rd Prize
Corrina Vali,
McGill University
3rd Prize
Rachael Ostroff,
Carleton University

The winning essays from the 2017 contest will appear in the Winter Canadian Student Review Magazine.

2018 Essay Contest Rules

Previous winners archive:

2016 Student Essay Contest Winners

2015 Student Essay Contest Winners

2014 High School Student Essay Contest Winners

2014 Graduate and Undergraduate Essay Contest Winners

2013 Student Essay Contest Winners

2012 Student Essay Contest Winners

2011 Student Essay Contest Winners

2010 Student Essay Contest Winners

2009 Student Essay Contest Winners