Melissa Morelli Lacroix

Shevchenko Foundation Announces 2023 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition Winner

Winnipeg, January 24, 2023 – The Shevchenko Foundation is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2023 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition is Melissa Morelli Lacroix for her story titled Ivan and Irene.

Melissa Morelli Lacroix is a Saskatchewan-born writer, teacher, and editor who lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta. Her first book, a collection of poetry entitled A Most Beautiful Deception, was published by the University of Alberta Press in 2014.

This winning entry is from a collection of short stories about Ukrainian Canadian Ivan Burtney’s adventures alone in his retirement residence during the Covid-19 restrictions of 2020. Inspired by Melissa’s grandparents, Ivan’s name is a nod to the piano collection Adventures of Ivan by Aram Khachaturian and an homage to family friend Olga Burtney-Kondra, who epitomized the generation of Ukrainian Canadians who came of age in Saskatchewan during World War II.

This year’s jury consisted of award-winning author and 2022-23 Writer in Residence at Athabasca University Myrna Kostash; author, editor, and winner of the 2021 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition Adrian Lysenko; and producer, librettist/writer, and First Vice President of the Shevchenko Foundation Gordon Gordey.

“Enriched with observations and of-the-moment context ­– residential lockdown during Covid-19 – Ivan’s adventure is propelled by a strong and compelling internal voice that is utterly sympathetic and engaging, and creates a world uniquely Ivan’s. A pleasure to read.

Myrna Kostash

“Through detailed prose and emotional depth, the memories and grief of the 97-year-old protagonist in Ivan and Irene resonate with the reader in this moving story.”

Adrian Lysenko

“From the opening we are immediately immersed into Ivan’s 97 years of survival, love, and a life defined by the challenges and beauty of Saskatchewan’s immense landscape. LaCroix then plunges us into Ivan’s new world defined by the confines of Riverrun Retirement home, now further narrowed by stifling individual isolation requirements of COVID protocols. What follows is a heartwarming engagement of the reader with Ivan’s lighthouse beacon – the heartwarming reconstructed refuge of memories of his departed love – Irene.”

Gordon Gordey

Melissa Morelli Lacroix was honoured to have her entry chosen as winner of the 2023 Shevchenko Foundation Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition. “I am humbled by the adjudicators’ comments on my piece and by their decision,” wrote Melissa. “The prize money and the extra $1000 will be very helpful to me as I continue to work on and pursue publication of my collection of Ivan stories titled Adventures of Ivan.”

The adjudicators also acknowledged one semi-finalist – In My DNA by Linda Mikolayenko (Saskatchewan). In her story, Linda contemplates the role one’s heritage plays in shaping character while offering opportunities for personal exploration and growth.

The $1,500 prize is awarded annually by the Shevchenko Foundation to a Canadian writer for the best piece of unpublished prose of up to 1,500 words in the English language offering a glimpse into the Ukrainian Canadian experience. The winning writer is also awarded $1,000 toward publication of the winning entry in a Canadian newspaper, magazine, or by a recognized digital distributor.

The Shevchenko Foundation is a national, chartered philanthropic institution dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and development of the Ukrainian Canadian cultural heritage. Committed to encouraging and promoting new authors, the Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition sets the groundwork for new writers to explore the short prose form and aspire to submit an entry to the Kobzar Book Award (

2023 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition Semi-finalist

Linda Mikolayenko


by Linda Mikolayenko


Linda Mikolayenko has ancestral roots in Western Ukraine, but grew up on a farm in Manitoba. After multiple moves and a varied career, she now makes her home in Northern Saskatchewan where she is happy to be Baba to four grandchildren. In addition to having a passion for the oral storytelling tradition, she is grateful to the Wild Rice Writers Group for the inspiration to write her own stories. 

2023 Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition Jury 

Myrna Kostash

Born and raised in Edmonton, Canada, Myrna Kostash is a full-time writer, author of the classic All of Baba’s Children, the award-winning No Kidding: Inside the World of Teenage Girls and Bloodlines: A Journey into Eastern Europe.  In 2010, Kostash was awarded the Writers Trust Matt Cohen Award for a Life of Writing.

Kostash is the 2022-23 Writer in Residence at Athabasca University. Myrna Kostash has lectured across Canada and abroad, served as Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada, on the Board of Governors of the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Board of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta.

For more information about her work, visit 

Adrian Lysenko

Adrian Lysenko is the author of Five Stalks of Grain, a graphic novel illustrated by Ivanka Theodosia Galadza that tells a story of tragedy and survival during the Holodomor, the terror-famine that claimed millions of lives in Soviet Ukraine. He’s the editor of the arts and culture alternative The Walleye Magazine and lives outside Thunder Bay, Ontario.

For more on Adrian’s work visit

Gordon Gordey

Gordon Gordey (MFA, MA, BEd) is First Vice President of the Shevchenko Foundation. His autobiographical work “Gordon Gordey – Director and Dancemaker” is published in English and Ukrainian. Now retired, he taught at the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, and MacEwan University for over four decades. His commitment to developing writers involved 15 years of heading up the Alberta Culture Playwriting Competition and workshops.