TORONTO, ON, October 13, 2021 – Arzu Yildiz is the recipient of the 2021 PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship, which provides peer mentorship to one member of PEN Canada’s Writers-in-Exile program each year.

Yildiz is a Turkish-born investigative journalist, senior reporter, editor and public speaker, and the author of four books. She built a career at the liberal, democratic daily Taraf where she reported on human rights issues, corruption, and arms trafficking. Jailed and stripped of guardianship of her children for reporting on the trial of state prosecutors, Yildiz spent five months in hiding after a government crackdown on press freedoms before fleeing to Canada via Greece.

“I want to write refugee stories,” said Yildiz of her plans for the mentorship. “I take every step I take for refugees who are in despair anywhere in the world, and I tell them, ‘We must move forward.’”

The Writers-in-Exile Scholarship aims to help refugee writers do just that. “Silenced in her own country and forced into exile for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression, Arzu deserves our support to regain her voice in the world,” said PEN president Grace Westcott.

Yildiz’s voice and point of view are what distinguished her application and her body of writing as a whole. “Arzu Yildiz’s experiences as a court reporter in Turkey and as a refugee cut off from her family have invested her with a stark view of the concept of justice,” says David Bezmozgis, Yildiz’s mentor and the School for Writers’ creative director. “With urgency, humanity, and intelligence, she delineates uncomfortable and essential truths about the state of our world.”

Established in 2017, the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship provides a full scholarship to attend the Humber School for Writers’ graduate certificate program in creative writing. Over 30 weeks, the selected writer will work one-on-one with one of Humber’s faculty mentors on a book-length English-language manuscript of fiction or non-fiction. Previous scholarship recipients include Ava Homa (2017), Onder Deligoz (2018), Aaron Berhane (2019), and Maria Saba (2020)

About Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Humber College is focused on our students’ future. As a global leader in polytechnic education, Humber students receive in-depth theoretical learning and hands-on experience with applied research and extensive industry connections. Humber provides career-focused education to more than 38,000 full-time and 19,000 part-time and continuing education students across three campuses. A comprehensive range of credentials, including honours undergraduate degrees, Ontario graduate certificates, diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates, prepare career-ready global citizens to move seamlessly from education to employment. More than 86 per cent of Humber graduates are employed within six months of completing their studies. Visit

About PEN Canada

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. PEN Canada celebrates literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada. For further information, please visit


For more information, please contact:
Natalie St. Pierre
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Faculty of Media & Creative Arts
Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
416.675.6622 ext. 3363;