PEN Canada is one of the 148 centres of PEN International. Founded in 1926, it has a membership of over 1,000 writers and supporters who campaign on behalf of writers around the world who are persecuted, imprisoned and exiled for exercising their right to freedom of expression.[1]

PEN Canada
TypeNon-profit Organization, Literary society, Lobbying[1]
Legal statusAssociation
PurposePublication, Advocacy, Lobbying, Literary Awards[1]
HeadquartersLondon, UK
Coordinates43°38′56″N 79°24′09″W / 43.648819°N 79.402571°W / 43.648819; -79.402571
Region served
Official language
Grace Westcott
Key people
Board of Directors[1]
Parent organization
International PEN
AffiliationsInternational Freedom of Expression Exchange
RemarksPEN Canada is the representative of International Pen, for whole of Canada

Since its founding, various PEN Centers around the world have campaigned on behalf of such acclaimed writers as Czech playwright Václav Havel, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, novelist Salman Rushdie and Turkey's 2006 Nobel laureate in literature, Orhan Pamuk. PEN Canada is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange network.[2]

Over the years, PEN Canada membership has included many of the leading figures in the Canadian literary and cultural establishment, including Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Clarkson, John Ralston Saul, David Cronenberg and Yann Martel.


The Writers in Prison Committee advocates on behalf of 25-30 persecuted, imprisoned and murdered writers in countries such as Myanmar, China, Iran, Turkey, Mexico, Eritrea and Uzbekistan. Since January 2003, PEN Canada has seen the release from prison of 33 Honorary Members. International PEN's Day of the Imprisoned Writer is marked on November 15. The PEN Canada One Humanity Award honours a writer, journalist, academic or PEN Canada Honorary Member outside of Canada.

The Writers in Exile Network establishes partnerships with Canadian universities, colleges and other institutions to create placements for writers who have found asylum in Canada, so that they may re-professionalize their skills in their new country. The City of Toronto/PEN Canada Writer in Exile Fellowship allows a refugee writer to be a member of the Toronto Writers’ Centre for one year.

The TAXI Project and Readers & Writers "explore freedom of expression through the arts" with actors, writers in exile and established and community authors participating in schools and community readings and events.

The Canadian Issues Committee run by PEN Canada acts as a watchdog on legislation and actions in Canada that violate the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

PEN Canada also participates in Freedom to Read Week by holding events to raise awareness about freedom of expression.

Awards and fellowshipsEdit

One Humanity AwardEdit

The One Humanity Award has been given since 2006 to an international writer, journalist, academic, or honorary PEN member who has endured repression or shown courage in exercising their freedom of expression. The honour has been awarded to:

Presidents of PEN CanadaEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "About PEN Canada". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  2. ^ "PEN Canada is IFEX Member". Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  3. ^ "Jiand Weiping is awarded 2010 One Humanity Award" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  4. ^ "Zargana is awarded 2008 One Humanity Award" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  5. ^ "Lydia Cacho is awarded 2009 One Humanity Award" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  6. ^ "Sayed Pervez is awarded 2010 One Humanity Award" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-01.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Nasrin Sotoudeh is awarded PEN Canada One Humanity Award". News Wire. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  8. ^ "From the Archives: Liu Xiaobo wins 2012 One Humanity Award". 31 October 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Dieu Cay wins PEN Canada's One Humanity Award". 22 October 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Jailed Saudi Blogger Receives One Humanity Award". 21 October 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Eskinder Nega wins 2015 PEN Canada One Humanity Award". 19 October 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  12. ^ "PEN Canada One Humanity Award". PEN Canada. 2017-10-18. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  13. ^ "Imprisoned Palestinian Poet Ashraf Fayadh wins PEN Canada One Humanity Award". PEN Canada. 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2017-10-24.

External linksEdit