The 15th annual Northwords Writers Festival opened last weekend with two workshops and a panel discussion.

Festival-goers accustomed to attending different sites throughout the city have had to be content with watching the content in video conferences and on social media. 

This year there are 23 guests taking part in panels and workshops over a 10-day period.

To register for the free events and to see the full schedule click here, or visit the festival’s Facebook page.

The biographies of guest writers and speakers can be seen here.

Panel discussions at the Northwords Writers Festival — unlike this one at the UNW Building in 2019 — will be hosted online this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
NNSL file photo

Every year, the event aims to feature up-and-coming writers and to showcase Northern literary talents. The festival also gives writers an opportunity to mingle and build their profiles so that they can use it as a “stepping stone” to other festivals, explained Valerie Gamache, executive director with Northwords NWT.

Gamache said the event has been affected by the lack of ability to have physical connectivity due to the pandemic.

“It has been a bit different, but I would say that everyone has been generous and authentic, particularly on today’s panel,” she said on Sunday. “We have great topics and that is kind of nice because it has meant that we have opened it up to different types of writing, both traditional writing types, but also newer forms like script-writing and song writing and journalism.”  

This year’s edition of the festival will feature five panels, five workshops and other speakings and readings.  

On Friday, Brie O’Keefe hosted a workshop called Drawing Inspiration from the Northern Natural World. 

“We had about 11 participants and it was very interesting,” Gamache said. “Brie is a great performer and she was well prepared and had good samples. She presented different ways of matching lyrics and music, including with local artists.” 

On Saturday, NNSL Media columnist Catherine Lafferty hosted a workshop titled IndigiLit Fiction Workshop. It focused on her upcoming book Land, Water, Sky and how she draws inspiration from the land, tradition and legends in her writing.

There was a panel on Sunday called Using Short Stories and Writing to Reclaim Culture and Tradition, which featured Lafferty, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, David Alexander Robertson, Tunchai Redvers, Jamesie Fournier and Richard Van Camp.

Gamache said on Sunday she doesn’t know what kind of reaction she will get for the rest of the week, although she said due the weather and people not likely wanting to be on their computer, it may mean Yellowknifers will want to be outside.


Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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