The Scotiabank Giller Prize Launches Monthly Power Panels

February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021 (Toronto, ON) – We are thrilled to announce the debut of the monthly Giller Power Panels, a series of conversations tackling timely and important topics, kicking off on Tuesday, February 16. The debut Power Panel will celebrate and honour Black History Month with a discussion about the experiences of Black authors in Canada.

Moderated by celebrated author, journalist, essayist and 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize jurist, Cecil Foster, the panel will include 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Ian Williams, 2021 Giller jury chair and author Zalika Reid-Benta, literary agent Chelene Knight and scholar and writer, Rinaldo Walcott.

The monthly Giller Power Panel will feature a different theme each month. Moderators and panelists will be selected from past winners, longlisted and shortlisted authors as well as other Canadian authors, publishing figures, literary agents and cutting-edge thinkers.

Cecil Foster

Cecil Foster is the author of numerous books including five critically acclaimed novels. Foster’s latest book is They Called Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada. Sleep On, Beloved was shortlisted for the 1995 Ontario Trillium Award and No Man in the House (1991) aired frequently on CBC Radio’s Between the Covers. Other works include Blackness and Modernity: The Colour of Humanity and the Quest for Freedom (2007), which won the John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award in 2008, and Genuine Multiculturalism: Tragedy and Comedy of Diversity (2014). A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada (1996) won the 1997 Gordon Montador Award. Currently on leave as a professor at the University of Guelph, Foster is a professor and interim chair in the Department of Transnational Studies at SUNY, Buffalo. He resides in Toronto and Buffalo, NY. Foster was a juror for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2015.

Ian Williams

Williams is the author of Personals, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award; Not Anyone’s Anything, winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada; and You Know Who You Are, a finalist for the ReLit Prize for poetry. He was named as one of ten Canadian writers to watch by CBC. Williams completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of Toronto, mentored by George Elliot Clarke, was an assistant professor of poetry in the Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia and now teaches at the University of Toronto. He was the 2014-2015 Canadian Writer-in-Residence for the University of Calgary’s Distinguished Writers Programme. He has held fellowships or residencies from the Banff Center, Vermont Studio Center, Cave Canem, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Palazzo Rinaldi in Italy. He was also a scholar at the National Humanities Center Summer Institute for Literary Study and was a judge for the 2018 Griffin prize. His writing has appeared in several North American journals and anthologies. Williams won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2019 for his novel, Reproduction.

Zalika Reid-Benta

Benta is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection Frying Plantain won the 23rd annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award and won the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in literary fiction. Frying Plantain was shortlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Awards, the 2020 Trillium Book Award and was longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The collection is currently nominated for the 2021 White Pine Award and was shortlisted for Forest of Reading Evergreen Award presented by the Ontario Library Association. Zalika is also the winner of the 2019 Byblacks People’s Choice Awards for Best Author. Frying Plantain has been on numerous “must read” lists from Buzzfeed, Bustle, Refinery29, Chatelaine Magazine, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and more. It was also listed as one of Indigo’s 50 “Best Books of 2019”. Zalika was the June 2019 Writer in Residence for Open Book and she was listed in CBC’s “6 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2019”. She received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, was the 2019 John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writers’ Studio. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore.

Chelene Knight

Chelene Knight is the author of the Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award, and long-listed for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making Room, Love Me True, Sustenance, The Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter, winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Award.

Knight was the previous managing editor at Room magazine, and the previous festival director for the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver. She is now CEO of her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative and she works as an associate literary agent with Transatlantic Agency. Chelene often gives talks about home, belonging and belief, inclusivity, and community building through authentic storytelling. Chelene teaches part-time at the University of Toronto.

Rinaldo Walcott

Rinaldo Walcott is Professor of Black Diaspora Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a Professor (Full) in the Women and Gender Studies Institute. and he is a member of the Graduate Program at the Institute of Cinema Studies as well. His teaching and research is in the area of black diaspora cultural studies and postcolonial studies with an emphasis on questions of sexuality, gender, nation, citizenship and multiculturalism. From 2002-2007 Rinaldo held the Canada Research Chair of Social Justice and Cultural Studies where his research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust.

Rinaldo Walcott is the author of Black Like Who: Writing Black Canada (Insomniac Press, 1997 with a second revised edition in 2003); he is also the editor of Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism (Insomniac, 2000); Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies (Insomniac, 2016). With Idil Abdillahi, BlackLife: Post-BLM and the Struggle for Freedom (ARP Books, 2019). As well Rinaldo is the Co-editor with Roy Moodley of Counselling Across and Beyond Cultures: Exploring the Work of ClemmentVontress in Clinical Practice (University of Toronto Press, 2010).

As an interdisciplinary Black Studies scholar, Rinaldo has published in a wide range of venues. His articles have appeared in journals and books, as well as popular venues like newspapers, magazines and online venues, as well as other forms of media. His latest book the Long Emancipation: Moving Towards Black Freedom (An Essay) is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2021. And he recently published On Property (Biblioasis, 2021).

The themes for the 2021 Giller Power Panels are:

  • February – Black History Month
  • March – International Women’s Day
  • April – How to get published in Canada
  • May – Asian Heritage Month
  • June – National Indigenous History Month
  • July – Let’s Celebrate Canada
  • August – What it means to be a juror

Please visit for more information and to register for this Power Panel and the ones to follow.

About the Prize

The Giller Prize, founded by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994, highlights the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. In 2005, the prize teamed up with Scotiabank who increased the winnings four-fold. The Scotiabank Giller Prize now awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away in August 2017.

About Scotiabank

Scotiabank is a leading bank in the Americas. Guided by our purpose: “for every future”, we help our customers, their families and their communities achieve success through a broad range of advice, products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate and investment banking, and capital markets. With a team of over 90,000 employees and assets of approximately $1.1 trillion (as at October 31, 2020), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: BNS) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: BNS). For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @ScotiabankViews.

About Audible, Inc.

Audible, a leading producer and provider of original spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, is committed to supporting talented Canadian authors and creators and is proud to be the exclusive audiobook sponsor of the Scotiabank Giller Prize. At, an, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ: AMZN), we believe storytelling and the spoken word have the power to help people rediscover the joy in listening, making us more informed, more connected, and more human. Audible content includes hundreds of thousands of audiobooks, podcasts, guided wellness programs, theatrical performances, A-list comedy, and exclusive Audible Originals you won’t find anywhere else.


Media Enquiries:

Daphna Rabinovitch, Scotiabank Giller Prize
T: 416-525-3752