Joan Leishman wins 2023 Marie-Ange Garrigue Prize

TORONTO, September 19, 2023 – Joan Leishman, recently-retired CBC veteran journalist and longtime advocate for refugee writers, has won PEN Canada’s 2023 Marie-Ange Garrigue Prize.

The prize recognizes a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who has provided significant help to a writer or journalist outside Canada and helped to spare them from threats, violence, harassment, or imprisonment for reporting or commenting on issues of public interest.

In addition to her accomplished work as a journalist, Leishman has for over a decade supported refugee writers, as a volunteer at Romero House, a charitable organization offering transitional housing and immigration and settlement support to newly-arrived refugee claimants in Toronto, which includes members of PEN Canada Writers-in-Exile group. For both organizations she opened her home for many years to give shelter to refugees.

Established in 2022, the prize honours the memory of the late Marie-Ange Garrigue, a Canadian and French citizen. She practiced law in Canada for many years and held a deep commitment to independent opinion, fearlessly expressed. This is the second PEN Canada prize funded by Cynthia Wine and Philip Slayton in support of defenders of freedom of expression — the first is the Ken Filkow Prize. The prize is valued at $2000. Winners of both prizes are selected by a jury following a public call for nominations each summer.

On Saturday, Sept. 23 at 4:30 p.m. Leishman will be presented with the award at a ceremony at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, as part of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. The ceremony, titled “Raising our Voices: PEN Canada Awards & Readings in Solidarity with Persecuted Writers”, will be hosted by Garvia Bailey and is open to the public. For more information on the event and to reserve your seat, visit

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization that celebrates literature, defends freedom of expression, and assists writers in peril at home and abroad. The English-language Canadian centre was founded in 1983 and is proud to be one of over 100 chapters of PEN International.

Media contact:
Eilish Waller, Communications Coordinator
PEN Canada, ewaller[at]