PEN Canada’s inaugural Marie-Ange Garrigue Prize has been awarded to Mariam Al Zier. The prize is awarded annually to 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.
The prize honours the memory of Marie-Ange Garrigue, a citizen of Canada and France, who practiced law in Canada for many years and died in France in January 2022. She had a deep commitment to independent opinion fearlessly expressed. This is the second PEN prize funded by Cynthia Wine and Philip Slayton in support of defenders of freedom of expression.
Mariam Al Zier is a Palestinian-Jordanian-Canadian who is a licensed paralegal and immigration consultant. In its citation for the inaugural Marie-Ange Garrigue award the jury states: “During the last two years, Mariam dedicated hundreds of hours of her time to helping an exiled Iranian journalist navigate the complexities of the Canadian immigration system. She translated, interpreted, supported and encouraged, all while balancing her own family and work responsibilities. That she did so without expectation of reward or recognition seemed to us all the more reason why she should be recognized for her valuable work.”