Alistair MacLeod
Mentorship Program

The Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program was made possible by the late Alistair MacLeod, who generously donated the protégé portion of his 2001 Portia White Prize to the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia to ensure the continuation of its mentorship pilot program. Alistair MacLeod's passing on April 20, 2014, was mourned by the Atlantic literary community, but we continue to lean on and grow from his books, his teaching, his steadfast friendships, and his commitment to his home province.


Since 2001, the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program has supported the development of emerging writers in Nova Scotia who are on the cusp of professional publication and who are committed to their writing and creative development. It is a disciplined, focused, and supportive one-on-one apprenticeship program through which writers expand and hone their craft.

Through this program, WFNS pairs professionally published writers with emerging writers, taking care through an assessment process to match established writers’ experience and craft with emerging writers’ project goals and draft manuscripts. Writers from across Nova Scotia — with projects in all forms and genres of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry — are welcome to apply. (We cannot offer mentorships for picture book or graphic novel authors at this time.)

The program helps emerging writers overcome barriers to their growth and development, provides professional writers with an opportunity to refine their mentoring and instructional skills, and reaffirms the creative conviction of everyone involved. In so doing, the program helps fulfill WFNS’s mission to foster creative writing and the profession of writing; to provide advice and assistance to writers at all stages of their careers; to encourage greater public recognition of writers and their achievements; and to enhance the literary arts in our regional and national culture.

Want to hear about the impact of the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program first-hand?

Carmel Mikol (host of Hyacinth Podcast) interviews 2016 participants Carol Bruneau (mentor) and Nicola Davison (apprentice) about the benefits of the program and how it helped them write two award-winning novels.

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How does the program work?

Mentors and apprentice writers work together over a five-month period, from January through May, meeting in person or via video conference every two weeks (for 8 to 10 sessions total) and conducting follow-up exchanges via email.

In addition, mentors and apprentice writers participate in two mandatory group meetings, one in early December (to review program details, build a supportive writing group, and prepare to begin work in January) and another in early March (to check in at the mid-point of the program and share individual challenges and successes with the writing group). A mandatory public reading, held as part of the annual WFNS Celebration of Emerging Writers, concludes the program in early June. The WFNS promotes this reading and the mentorship participants widely in order to encourage public engagement with new writers and showcase the program’s role in building capacity in Nova Scotia’s writing community.

The WFNS provides an honorarium to each mentor. There is no cost to apprentice writers beyond WFNS membership dues, the program application fee, and any necessary travel costs to attend in-person meetings and the public reading — but the benefit of sustained work with a professional writer provides value long after the program has ended.


The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia acknowledges the Canada Council for the Arts for its ongoing investment in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program.

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