Montrealer Chanel Sutherland Wins CBC Non-Fiction Award for Her Story

“Do you like being black? ”

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Amid the intense global conversation sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Chanel Sutherland couldn’t stop thinking about an incident that happened to her as a child in Montreal, and it became the starting point. of its Umbrella story which just won the CBC Fiction Award.

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“I had this story in my head, this moment that’s happened to me, for a long time,” Sutherland said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “I carried it with me. I wrote this first line, where I am asked ‘Do you like being black?’ I wrote it in my phone and kept it there for several years. In 2020 with COVID-19 we were all confined then Black Lives Matter and all these things were going on in the world, I was reading a lot of people’s experiences and what they went through when they were younger and even in there. adulthood, the racism and microaggression they faced.

The prize to be won was announced on Wednesday.

She’s one of a small group of writers with friends, and in the fall of last year they got the idea to write stories about people breaking in, and Sutherland thought that ‘she was ready to write this story about the awkward situations she found herself as a child. She had come to Montreal from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines when she was 10 years old and she tells in the story how her classmates laughed at her because she looked and sounded different from ‘them.

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“Everywhere I looked, people were talking about BLM,” said Sutherland, director of product marketing for a Montreal software company. “At work, on social networks, friends are reaching out to talk about it. … Because of this, I felt I had to get out some of the things I had in my head. The experiences I had had were very similar to the ones I was hearing about. So I knew I had to get this out because it bothered me, to the point that I was feeling some of the emotions that I was feeling at that time.

Sutherland will receive $ 6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and participate in a two-week residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.

She hopes to publish a collection of stories inspired by Caribbean life and experiences when she came here to Montreal.

Umbrella can be read at

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