July 15th, 2024

Giller Prize to stick with Scotiabank as sponsor, despite mounting calls to drop it


By The Canadian Press on July 11, 2024.

A protester films herself as she interrupts the Scotiabank Giller Prize in Toronto, on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. The Scotiabank Giller Prize won't drop its lead sponsor, despite mounting pressure from some high-profile members of the literary community. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – The Scotiabank Giller Prize won’t drop its lead sponsor, despite mounting pressure from some high-profile members of the literary community.

Giller executive director Elana Rabinovitch says the board discussed the calls to cut ties with Scotiabank over its investment in an Israeli arms manufacturer, but they ultimately decided to stick with the bank.

Rabinovitch says the Giller Foundation is not a political tool, and Scotiabank’s funding has had a positive impact on prize winners and the CanLit scene at large.

The authors calling on the foundation to cut ties not only with Scotiabank but with all sponsors “directly invested in Israel’s occupation of Palestine” include past winner Omar El Akkad and shortlisted writers Noor Naga, Shani Mootoo and Thea Lim.

Other high-profile writers with eligible books have pulled their names from consideration for the Giller, including Catherine Hernandez and Farzana Doctor — though it’s unclear whether their publishers had submitted their books for consideration to begin with.

Scotiabank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The debate over Scotiabank’s Giller sponsorship began in earnest at last year’s ceremony, when protesters hopped on stage carrying signs that read “Scotiabank Funds Genocide.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2024.

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