NorthWords Writers Festival coming to town and reserve

photo by Angela Gzowski; Courtesy of NorthWords NWT
Laurie Sarkadi is a writer from Yellowknife.

Hay River will be welcoming three visitors on June 2 as part of the 12th-annual NorthWords Writers Festival.

The visitors are Yellowknife writer Laurie Sarkadi, Northern storyteller Paul Andrew and Toronto-based writer Melanie Florence.

Sarkadi – an award-winning writer, producer and editor of EDGE YK magazine in Yellowknife – will be visiting a school and will be presenting her new book Voice in the Wild during a brown bag lunch session at NWT Centennial Library from noon to 1 p.m.

Andrew, a renowned Northern storyteller originally from Tulita and well known from his 30 years at CBC North, will be visiting Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve to tell traditional stories and work with the students to tell their own stories.

Florence – the author of the awarding-winning book, Missing Nimama, will be visiting schools to discuss her young adult novels, and conduct writing workshops with students. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night and Rez Runaway.

Lynn O’Rourke, executive director of NorthWords NWT, said its annual writers festival is designed to promote Northern and indigenous writers and to grow a Northern literary culture.

“Our annual festival contributes to this by giving established and emerging northern writers an opportunity to share the stage with, and to learn from, renowned Canadian authors through formal readings, mentorships, workshops, open mikes, panel discussions, school visits, and informal social contact,” she stated in responses to e-mailed questions from The Hub. “The festival also features public events which promote creative storytelling, reading and literacy, which are integral to the development of a northern literary culture.”

The theme for this year’s writers festival is Reconciliation: Honouring the past and looking to the future.

“We believe that by presenting this theme, we can support and encourage local writers, storytellers, literary performers, and readers to think about reconciliation as personal, social and political processes,” said O’Rourke. “Many countries and communities around the world have tackled the issue of reconciliation and we hope that many different perspectives will be represented. By inviting indigenous writers from across Canada, we are highlighting the current Canadian social and political efforts to address the goals and recommendations set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s reports and call to action.”

The 12thannual NorthWords Writers Festival will take place in and around Yellowknife from June 1 to 4.  

Along with Hay River, writers will be reading and conducting workshops in Behchoko, Dettah and Ndilo.