Five rising communicators win 10th edition of SSHRC Storytellers Challenge

News release

Postsecondary students share stories about why research matters

Monday, May 29, 2023—Toronto, Ontario—Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Today, Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), announced the winners of the 10th edition of the 2023 Storytellers Challenge. SSHRC’s annual Storytellers Challenge calls on postsecondary students to demonstrate—in up to three minutes or 300 words—how SSHRC-funded research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Students entering submit stories about Canadian social sciences and humanities research and how it helps improve our society and the world. Hewitt made the announcement as part of this year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (Congress), at York University.

This year’s five winners are:

  • Zyrene Estallo, from the University of New Brunswick, who shared a story about helping classrooms support equity, diversity and inclusion in math learning, particularly for students of migrant and Indigenous backgrounds;
  • Hannah Hunter, from Queen's University, who told us about what historical bird sound recordings tell us about human-nature relationships of the past, present and future;
  • Madison Robertson, from Queen's University, who explained the impacts of involuntary separation of spouses in long-term care homes;
  • Richy Srirachanikorn, from Concordia University, who described the relationships between play and learning in games like Minecraft; and
  • Jennifer Williamson, from the University of Calgary, who shared a story about how to understand the mental health experiences of autistic students in university, to develop better mental health supports for them.

The five winners were selected from the Top 25 SSHRC Storytellers finalists, who were chosen from a highly competitive field of approximately 200 submissions from students across the country. Each finalist received $3,000 and the opportunity to present their story at the SSHRC Storytellers Showcase at Congress, in front of an audience and a panel of five judges. The Final Five winners receive an additional $1,000 each, in recognition of their outstanding abilities to communicate research.

Social sciences and humanities research helps us understand what it means to be human and points the way toward a better future for all. While research can often seem abstract, stories and storytelling can help translate complex projects into ideas and concepts we can all understand, appreciate and learn from.


“Congratulations to the finalists and winners of this year’s Storyteller Challenge! Their creativity and passion push the boundaries of knowledge and contribute to the development of our society by making that knowledge accessible to all. The impact their work has had and will continue to have on the well-being of Canadians is not only inspiring but also promising for the future of social sciences and humanities research in Canada.”

—The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“As we celebrate the 10th edition of the Storytellers Challenge, I could not be more impressed by the stories and the storytelling shared with us by these talented postsecondary students. Their effective research communication skills bring new ideas to life, help make research more accessible, and demonstrate the impacts of social sciences and humanities research to Canadians in new and inspiring ways. Congratulations to the finalists and to this year’s Final Five winners!”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council 

Quick facts

  • A distinguished jury chose the Final Five winners:

    • Nicola Luksic, senior producer, CBC Radio’s Ideas
    • Sapna Mahajan, director, Genomics in Society, Genome Canada
    • Pierre Normand, vice-president, External Relations and Communications, Canada Foundation for Innovation
    •  Jacqueline Wallace, vice-president, Marketing and Communications, Mitacs
    • Hannah Yakobi, vice-president, Communications, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
  • The Storytellers Challenge is a postsecondary competition in Canada that accepts written, graphic, audio and video submissions.

  • Storytellers Challenge events returned this year to their in-person format at Congress, after two years of virtual competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Associated links


Media Relations
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

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