The Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

The 2022 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program: Call for Mentors & Apprentices

Application Deadline:
November 30, 2022 for the January – June 2023 Program

The Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program pairs emerging writers with established, professional writers to work together one-on-one for a five month period. During the program, the emerging writer is encouraged to utilize the expertise of the professional writer in the areas of manuscript evaluation, markets and publishing, and grants and employment opportunities.


The Program is designed for emerging writers who have made a commitment to their writing and is not to take the place of a creative writing course. Emerging writers are expected to have been writing for some time and have a body of work. For many emerging writers who have participated in the program, the experience of working with a professional writer often marks the transition from beginning writer to published author.


In March, 2004 the Board of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild decided to name the Emerging Writers’ Mentor Program after the late Sheldon Oberman, to pay tribute to his effort and encouragement when working with new and emerging writers. Founding Guild member Sheldon Oberman participated in the first annual Mentor Program as an apprentice in 1988 (mentor, David Arnason) and as he developed as a writer, he became one of the program’s longest serving mentors.


“I approach the work of an emerging writer with a great deal of respect for personal process. I seek the teaching methods with which the writer feels most comfortable… I offer my response first as a reader describing how I understand and feel as I read the writer’s work. Only when I understand the effect the writer wishes to achieve do I make suggestions on how the writer can alter the work to better achieve it.”


Sheldon Oberman was one of Canada’s most popular children’s authors, winning several awards including the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award (By the Hanukkah Light, Boyds Mills Press in 1997, The Wisdom Bird, Boyds Mills Press in 2001). His book, The Shaman’s Nephew was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2000 and his book The Always Prayer Shawl won the Sydney Taylor American Librarians Award and the National Jewish Book Award in 1994.


This year, we are able to support TWO emerging writers and TWO established writers, who will be selected from among the applicants and will be paired for a five month mentorship. Writers are asked to specify the literary genre(s) in which they are currently working and to send support material in that genre. Eligible genres are: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and writing for children and young adults. (*Note: Should we find sponsors or receive a grant to subsidize the program, we will increase the number of applicants we can accept.)

Apprentices and Mentors are asked to commit to one-on-one meetings between January and May. At each meeting, mentors will comment on a piece of the apprentice’s work, focusing on issues such as writing process, literary techniques, self-editing and manuscript development. Attention will also be devoted to markets, publishing and grants. Applications are invited from prospective Mentors and Apprentices from anywhere in Manitoba. When rural writers are chosen, the mentorship will be conducted on-line.


At the end of the program, apprentices will have the opportunity to read their work at a public event hosted by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

Eligibility & Application Process


Emerging writers with a clear commitment to writing are encouraged to apply. Applicants may be published or unpublished, and must be members of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild for the 2022/23 membership year. Apprentices will be asked to submit materials to their mentors prior to each meeting, and to write a program assessment mid-term and a final report at the end of the mentorship. There is no cost to the apprentices.


Please submit the items below in the following order:

  • A page with your name and contact information.
  • A letter describing your current work and explaining why you think this program would benefit you at this stage of your career. Discuss what you intend to work on during the program and what you would like to achieve.
  • A writing resume outlining your recent writing activities and any creative writing courses or workshops you’ve taken. If you are a published writer, provide a list of publications.
  • A 10-page writing sample. Prose should be double-spaced.


Established writers with extensive experience in their respective genre(s) are encouraged to apply to be a mentor. Applicants must be members of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild for the 2022/23 membership year. Past experience as an editor, mentor, or creative writing instructor is an asset but not a requirement. Successful applicants will be asked to sign an agreement outlining their responsibilities as mentors.

Mentors selected to participate in the program will receive a $1,500 honorarium provided by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. This will be paid in two installments: $700 upon completion of an interim report halfway through the program, and $800 upon completion of a final report at the end.


Please submit the items below in the following order:

  • A page with your name and contact information.
  • A concise statement describing your mentoring philosophy and process.
  • A curriculum vitae listing your published work and highlighting your teaching and mentoring experience.
  • Letters of recommendation from previous students or apprentices (optional, to a maximum of two).

The Selection Process

Apprentices and Mentors will be selected and matched by a jury of established writers and editors chosen by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. Selection will be based on two factors:

  • The jury’s assessment of the strengths and potential of the applicants, based on the submitted material.
  • Whether a suitable match can be made between the established and emerging writers, with respect to genre and writing experience.

The mentors and apprentices selected for the program will be contacted in mid-December, and the program will begin with a welcome reception in January.


To facilitate sending materials to the jury, applicants in both categories are asked to submit their application, (including writing sample, if applying as an apprentice), by e-mail to Please send the entire package in either Word .doc or .pdf format.


2022 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Mentor was Jonathan Ball

Apprentice was Xanthe Zarry

2021 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Mentor was Angeline Schellenberg

Apprentice was Zilla Jones

2020 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Mentor was Keith Cadieux

Apprentice was Joy MacLean

2019 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Mentor was Keith Cadieux

Apprentice was Brenda Sawatzky

2018 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program 

2018 Mentors were:

Jake MacDonald

Meira Cook

Lauren Carter

2018 Apprentices were:

Nancy Hall

Noah Cain

Karen Blicker

2017  Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Program Participants were:


Di Brandt/Carolyn Gray

Karen Press

Anita Daher

David Elias

Jake MacDonald

Angeline Schellenberg



Finn McMahon

Joelle Kidd

Gretchen Derige

Katy Slimmon

Jamie Ducusin Hay

Tamar Rubin

2015 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Program Participants were.


Di Brandt

Keith Cadieux

Maureen Fergus

Meira Cook

Karen Press

Duncan Thornton



Lulu Akhanamoya

Hannah Green

Steve Locke

Michael Minor

Jacinda Sinclair

Judy Stoddart

2014 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program

Program Participants were:

Duncan Thornton mentoring Amanda M. Taylor

David Elias mentoring Kathleen Parobec

Katherine Bitney mentoring Linda Trinh

Sally Ito mentoring Kailey Barron

Dave Williamson mentoring Matthew Tetreault

Keith Cadieux mentoring Brock Peters

Jennifer Still mentoring John Stintzi



Financial assistance provided by the Manitoba Arts Council

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