A History of the Sunburst Award

by Peter Halasz

The idea of a national, juried award for SF&F was originally floated by the Canadian SF&F Foundation (CSFFF) which had its beginnings at CONADIAN, the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg. The CSFFF's broad mandate was to promote Canadian SF&F.

The CSFFF, which later changed its name to the National SF&F Society (NSFFS), believed that a national juried award would greatly help promote the field. At its first Board meeting the CSFFS decided that the development of such a national, juried award would be one of its high-priority goals.

Unfortunately the NSFFS proved ultimately unsustainable and despite its many successes decided, in 1999, to cease operations.

Prior to this, ConSpec, a symposium on Canadian SF&F, was held in Edmonton. Two of the guests, Candas Jane Dorsey and Nalo Hopkinson, brought up the idea of a national juried award at one of the sessions. Although the discussion of such an award was not part of the official symposium programme, many attendees showed great interest and enthusiasm for it. In short order a volunteer sign-up sheet was circulated and a feasibility committee was struck. Within weeks this committee had grown to roughly 18 Canadians with (rare) coast-to-coast representation. 

Much of the groundwork for the Sunburst was laid out over the next few months.

Concurrently, the NSFFS board, with input from its members, was discussing what to do with its remaining assets. Because this new group was actively pursuing one of the goals of the NSFFS, it was decided to deed all assets to it. So, happily, the Sunburst Award was able to begin with some seed money. 

As work progressed, the feasibility study group gave way to an administrative committee. It has been working diligently over the last year and a half to be able to launch the Sunburst Award in the first year of the new millennium.

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