The donor: Margaret Atwood
The gift: $67,000
The cause: The Chief Harry St. Denis Awards
The reason: To fund scholarships for Indigenous students
After co-winning the prestigious Booker Prize on Monday in London, Margaret Atwood and British author Bernardine Evaristo were immediately asked how they planned to spend the prize money.
Ms. Evaristo, who won for her book Girl, Woman, Other, told a news conference after the awards ceremony that she would use her £25,000 share ($42,500) to pay down her mortgage. Ms. Atwood, who won for The Testaments, was asked if she had something more exciting in mind for her £25,000.
“I’m kind of really annoyingly virtuous,” she said. “I’m going to put it into one my virtuous things that I do because I’m now so old that there’s no point in spending it on clothing and stuff like that.”
Ms. Atwood, 79, said she will donate the money to a scholarship fund she helped set up in May for Indigenous students studying environmental science. The fund is named after Ms. Atwood’s friend, Harry St. Denis, a long-time chief of the Wolf Lake First Nation who died last year. Mr. St. Denis was a passionate advocate for Indigenous title rights and environmental protection. The fund will cover two Harry St. Denis Awards – one for a student at a technical college and one for a university undergraduate. Its aim is to “nurture the talents of young Indigenous leaders to serve in the protection of lands, waterways and species at risk on their territories.” Ms. Atwood was already matching all donations to the fund up to $25,000, bringing her total contribution to more than $67,000.
The acclaimed author, who won the Booker Prize once before in 2000, also made a pitch to the assembled media. “You can bung (throw) some money into it," she said with a smile.