Catherine Hernandez Wins Emerging Writers’ Award

Hernandez is proud of award                                                                    (photo supplied)

 

Toronto author Catherine Hernandez has won the 2015 Emerging Writers Award for fiction for her Scarborough Stories.

“Anytime a Filipino makes news it gives our community such a sense of pride and that to me is worth every accomplishment,” she said of the award given by the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop (ACWW). ACWW publishes the Ricepaper Magazine, now on its 20th year.

“This is especially true considering how often we are silenced in the media or portrayed as victims. To know we are powerful, skilled and talented is a good tool for healing and strength.”

Hernandez shared the award with Vietnamese writer Philip Huynh from Richmond, B.C. for his collection of stories Toad Poem.

Scarborough Stories is her first full-length fiction, written after several years working as a home daycare provider to Scarborough children.

Scarborough Stories follows the lives of three children who inhabit Toronto’s low-income east end. “Bing, who lives under the shadow of his father’s mental illness while his mother works tirelessly in a nearby nail salon. Sylvie, who, along with her family, rides the waves of the shelter system and the complications of special-needs education. And Laura, whose history of neglect with her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.

A sense of community is built once a family reading program is established in the Kingston/Galloway area under the compassionate direction of childhood educator Ms. Hina. The program’s goal is to increase literacy on a provincial level. But amidst acute poverty and rampant drug use, Ms. Hina soon realizes the neighbourhood’s people would be more interested in learning – if only they had full stomachs.

Told over the course of an entire school year, Scarborough Stories explores the positive impact of neighbourhood programming amongst Toronto’s poor and its devastation when the very governments who established these programs come and go.”

Hernandez, who describes herself as a “proud queer woman of colour, radical mother, activist, theatre practitioner, burlesque performer, writer is the Artistic Director of Sulong Theatre Company and the owner of Out and About Home Daycare.

Her one-woman show, The Femme Playlist, premiered at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 2014 as part of the afterRock Play Series co-produced by b current, Eventual Ashes and Sulong Theatre.

Her other plays include Singkil, (fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company in associa­tion with Factory Theatre), Eating with Lola (Sulong Theatre and Next Stage Festival, first developed by fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre) and Kilt Pins (Sulong Theatre) and Future Folk (collectively written by the Sulong Theatre Collective, produced by Theatre Passe Muraille).

She has served playwright residencies at Theatre Passe Muraille, Carlos Bulosan Theatre, Shaw Festival Theatre and Blyth Festival Theatre.

On September 21 2012, Catherine immersed herself in a lifeboat filled with filthy water for 24 hours without access to food. The event, named Operation Lifeboat, raised money and awareness for the unnatural recurring disasters in the Philippines. It involved more than 45 artists worldwide.

She is currently the Playwright in Residence at Nightswimming Theatre.

Her children’s book. M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book was published by Flamingo Rampant and her plays Kilt Pins and Singkil were published by Playwright’s Canada Press.