2023 Festival:
October 16–22
Illustration of stacked books

Who We Are

Words shape our worlds.

They can delight, inspire, provoke, comfort and unite—as do the authors, journalists and poets who wield them. At the Vancouver Writers Fest we encourage readers of all ages to explore the power of storytelling, and books, through our dozens of events with local and international writers.

Our activities include both year-round programming and our flagship, annual literary Festival: one of the largest and most prestigious in North America. Tens of thousands of readers visit the cultural hub of Granville Island and venues around Vancouver to connect with local and international authors during this week-long event.

Throughout the year we offer free and paid events with established and emerging authors, in addition to youth education opportunities.

Mission: We connect people to exceptional books, ideas and dialogue through year-round programming that ignites a passion for words and the world around us.

Vision: A world in which the transformative power of books and ideas is the foundation of an empathetic, inspired and just society.

Find out more about our programs below.

Proud member of CALF


History of the Festival

The Festival was inaugurated in 1988 by founding Artistic Director Alma Lee and City of Vancouver cultural planner, Lorenz von Fersen. Artistic Directors have included Alma Lee, Hal Wake and Leslie Hurtig.

In its 33 year history, the Vancouver Writers Fest has presented multiple award-winning writers from Canada and across the world including: Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, Madeleine Thien, Marlon James, Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay, David Sedaris, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Esi Edugyan, Alice Munro, Salman Rushdie, Rachel Kushner, Kevin Kwan, Kate Atkinson, Ian McEwan, Thomas King, Naomi Klein, Ian Rankin, Marilynne Robinson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and more.

FAQ

When is the Festival lineup announced each year?

We announce our October program to VWF members first in late August, and the first of our Incite events in early January. Special Events are announced when finalized, usually at least four weeks prior to the date of the event.

Where is the Festival?

The Festival will consist primarily of in-person events taking place on Granville Island in Vancouver. This year, a Digital Festival will follow in December.

How long are events? What are they like?

Most events are approximately 90 minutes unless otherwise noted. Sometimes solo events with one author are shorter, and events with an intermission are often slightly longer. Youth events are usually under one hour. Events take many forms: readings, panel discussions, performances or interviews. All events are directed at the book-reading public.

Why aren’t there more practical “hands-on” courses or workshops offered for aspiring writers?

The focus of the VWF is on connecting writers with readers through interviews, performances, panel discussions and readings. Aspiring writers may wish to check out the Federation of BC Writers or look at many workshops offered by other organizations across the Lower Mainland.

How can I buy tickets?

You can purchase tickets on this website by visiting the event page you are interested in. View all upcoming events here.

If you need assistance booking tickets, please call Showpass customer service toll-free at 1 (844) 307-7469.

Are there surcharges on tickets?

The ticket prices posted will include GST and a nominal processing fee. The ticket amount you see listed is the final amount you will pay.

Will books be available for sale? May I bring a copy of a book to be signed?

Most authors will be available to sign books after their event.

You can purchase Festival books from our official bookseller, Book Warehouse (a division of Black Bond Books), which also operates a Festival Bookstore on Granville Island during the Festival.

May I bring children to the events?

Children are welcome at our events. Our Youth events have suggested age ranges between grades K-12. Please note there may be content only suitable for adults at other events. We ask our audience to use their own discretion if bringing children.

What age groups are your events suitable for?

Our events are suitable for a wide range of ages, and older children will often enjoy events for adults, depending on the nature of conversation or reading. In addition to our events for adults, we also offer events for children as part of the Festival in October. The age/grade level for school groups for our daytime educational events will be indicated in the Festival Program Guide and online.

What is your inclusivity policy?

Are your events free?

Our in-person, Festival events are ticketed and are not free.

Pay What You Can pricing is available for most digital events (except for Book Club events, which include a copy of the book).

The Incite reading series is free, as are numerous additional events throughout the year. We are a registered not for profit and rely on ticket sales in addition to generous donations.

We offer discounted tickets to students, and free tickets to social service or community organizations that are impeded by the cost of the events. Email boxoffice@writersfest.bc.ca for information.

When does the Festival happen?

The annual Festival happens in the third week of October. We also host a range of Special Events throughout the year, and a free reading series, Incite, in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library.

Are there events year-round?

Our Incite reading series runs twice monthly from January to June at the VPL Central Library. These events are free to the public. We also host Special Events throughout the year featuring acclaimed authors with newly released titles. The best way to hear about upcoming events is to subscribe to our free weekly e-newsletter, Books & Ideas, which includes information about upcoming events and links to interesting literary reviews and ideas.

Is the organization a registered charity?

Yes, our charitable registration number is 12260 5678 RR0001. If you make a cash donation to the Vancouver Writers Fest, we can issue a tax receipt. As our $40 membership comes with benefits such as discounts on tickets and at participating bookstores, that portion of your gift is not deductible.

How do I become a member?

Please see our Membership page for more details.

Are you hiring?

Any open job postings will be made available in the Get Involved section. Thank you for your interest in working with us.

How do I volunteer?

Positions vary from year to year, with a wide variety of jobs that can be done during Festival week. For further information, please contact our friendly Volunteer Department at volunteer@writersfest.bc.ca.

I’m not a writer, can I still get involved?

Yes! You can be an audience member, a Member of the Festival (discounts on Festival event tickets and earlybird ticket buying privileges), or a Volunteer. Our events are for readers—whether you are also a writer or not.

I’m a writer. How do I arrange to appear at the Festival?

Each year, approximately 110 writers are selected to appear in events at the October Festival. The Artistic Director accepts pitches from established publishing houses throughout the year. There is no application process as appearance is by invitation only. For unpublished and emerging writers, there are occasionally “open mic” events held during Festival week by partner organizations; please see the Festival program guide.

How are writers selected?

There are several criteria when it comes to writer selection. The Artistic Director tries to balance genres; regions of Canada; U.S. and International authors; established and emerging voices; large and small publishing houses; and books that fit themes within the Guest Curator’s vision. Our Youth Programming makes up approximately one third of our selected authors with a wide-representation of children’s titles. Most writers appear at the Vancouver Writers Fest to promote a new book published within the last year.

Do you pay authors?

Yes, we offer honorariums to all authors who appear at the Festival or at one of our events.

Inclusivity and Accessibility

The Vancouver Writers Fest believes engaging with stories, authors, and ideas is an inclusive endeavor. Our stages shine a light on human experiences, challenge personal perspectives, and build empathy. Thus they should be accessible to all.

During Festival Week and throughout the year in our Incite and Book Club events, VWF strives to create a welcoming and accessible space for everyone to engage with ideas that can transform our world.

For more information on how to access courtesy seating, sliding scale tickets, school subsidies, or request ASL interpretation (two weeks before event date), please email info@writersfest.bc.ca

 

The Vancouver Writers Fest is proud to be a certified Living Wage Employer.

We strive to provide safe, inclusive, low-barrier experiences for patrons by:

Supporting inclusion for people of varying abilities

  • All venues are accessible to people using mobility aids.
  • Courtesy Seating offered for anyone with mobility challenges, physical disabilities, or chronic pain.
  • Hearing Support provided through ASL interpretation at select events throughout Festival Week, and on request at all live events.  Live captioning provided for digital events.

Ensuring inclusion for people of all financial capacities

  • Pay-What-You-Can options at Festival events.
  • Subsidized tickets for schools.
  • Reduced ticket prices for seniors and young people (under 30).
  • A full season of free events through our INCITE series in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library.

Fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion for all participants

  • Gender-neutral facilities at all venues.
  • Sensory sensitivity – we request all patrons limit the use of heavily scented perfumes and products.
  • We ensure we always have a real, live person to talk to (or buy tickets from) for those who don’t have access to or patience with the internet.

Team

Year-Round Team

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Leslie Hurtig

Artistic Director

Leslie Hurtig has worked in a range of senior positions across the Canadian literary landscape for the last 30 years. She has held roles of sales representative, publicist, rights manager and book buyer for some of North America’s great publishers and bookstores. In addition to curating year-round and Festival events, Leslie regularly moderates literary events, acts as juror for a number of prizes, and guest lectures on publishing and literary festivals at Simon Fraser University.

She sits on the board of the Canadian Association of Literary Festivals and organizing committee for The Global Association of Literary Festivals.

A white settler woman and immigrant from the States laughs warmly in front of a blue background. Her long orange-red hair is pulled loosely back. She's wearing a tawny red top and dusty flowered jacket.

Kaile Shilling

Executive Director

Kaile has spent the last two decades working for nonprofits focused on supporting young people and the power of stories and creativity to foster change. She graduated from Harvard University, where she focused on the role of the arts as a means of expressing and shifting social values, and has a Master of Theological Studies from Loyola Marymount University.

She lives in Vancouver with her journalist husband and their two awesome little bookworms (aka kids)!

A middle aged white woman with short brown hair and a bright pink tank top laughs and looks away from the camera.

Chelsee Damen

Operations Manager

Chelsee has a philosophy BA from VIU. She founded the Nanaimo Fringe, where she was GM 2011-16. Chelsee then covered a series of leave replacements at Vancouver Fringe 2016-17 as Managing Director and Executive Director, before joining the Writers Fest in 2018. Her interests include neurodiversity, resilience, resurgence, music, and the way words bridge the gap.

Chelsee is a second generation Canadian and grew up in Calgary. She also studied child development, worked as a preschool educator, and spent four summers mentoring young feminists at the original Girls Rock Camp in Portland.

Leena Desai

Senior Education and Development Coordinator

Leena is a graduate of the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University. She earned her degree in 2018. She has worked on magazines since 2011, with a two-year stint at Architectural Digest with Condé Nast India. Her work experience before that includes several film and television projects in her hometown of Mumbai.

Leena is a cinephile and devours the fantasy and sci-fi genre in both books and movies.

April Thompson

Senior Development Manager

April Thompson is an arts administrator, writer, and curator based in Vancouver, B.C. Most recently she served as Executive Director at Geist Magazine, and has worked across arts and culture institutions such as Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society, The Banff Centre for Arts & Culture, and the Jewish Museums & Archives of B.C.

Her writing has been published by The Tahoma Literary Review, Torrey House Press, CMagazine, Canadian Art, The Capilano Review, and BlackFlash.

Joyce, a Chinese-Canadian woman, smiles in front of a blue wall on Granville Island. She has shoulder-length black hair, and is wearing a grey floral-print shirt.

Joyce Wan

Marketing & Digital Production Coordinator

Joyce has a BA in English Literature from UBC, with a minor in human geography. After graduating, she taught English and worked as a freelance travel and culture writer for two years in Hokkaido, Japan. She has worked for the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and served on the board of the Car Free Vancouver Society, overseeing the Vancouver Car Free Day festivals, where she developed a passion for arts festivals.

Joyce enjoys books, bike rides, travelling, and basically anything else that could be described as magical.

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Sarah Wang

Programming Coordinator

Sarah has a BA in international relations and history of art, and a graduate certificate in museum studies. Having initially worked in government research in Canada and Europe, she found herself gravitating more toward the arts, working for the Vancouver Art Gallery and serving on the Board(s) of the Roedde House Museum, CARFAC BC, SEARA Fund and researching for museum institutions in the United States and South America.

She comes to the Vancouver Writers Fest as a “born again” reader of fiction, particularly literature in translation from Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. Outside of work, her interests include eating charcuterie, watching boxing and making some of the best unintentionally lopsided ceramics in the city.

Team

Our Events and
Festival Team

Mikaela Asfour

Volunteer Co-Manager

Originally from Montreal, Mikaela holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and a BA in Psychology from McGill University, with minors in English (Cultural Studies) and Behavioural Sciences. Her past work experience includes three years supporting the programming department of the Vancouver International Film Festival with their annual festival and year-round educational initiatives.

Mikaela’s words have appeared in Room Magazine and Poetry Is Dead Magazine, and she was shortlisted for Geist’s 2018 Erasure Poetry Contest. An appreciator of cinema, literary and genre fiction, graphic forms, and theatre, she has volunteered with various arts non-profits in Vancouver.

An Indian Canadian woman smiles. Her long black wavy hair is worn down and a pair of gold metal framed black sunglasses rests on her head. She wears a white linen dress and has a small brown shoulder bag on her shoulder.

Kirith Bains

Volunteer Co-Manager

Kirith Bains is passionate about Vancouver Arts and Culture. She holds BA in Art History from the University of British Columbia, with a minor in Sociology. Her work experience includes being the Volunteer Coordinator for the 2023 Vancouver International Children’s Festival. She has worked at several other non-profits where she contributed to organizing inclusive art programming for the community. 

As a lifetime admirer of the arts, Kirith enjoys reading, painting and watching films in her free time. Kirith is excited to work with the amazing volunteers who make the Writers Fest possible.

Elizabeth Glancy

Catering Manager

Elizabeth is a fixture in the cultural landscape of Vancouver, and has worked at virtually every one of the most remarkable festivals in the city. Elizabeth is well read and extremely well travelled, and has photographed flowers and art murals all over the world.

If you see her at a festival, you know that you are in the right place and that the event will be amazing.

Zoe Grams

Marketing Consultant, ZG Stories

Zoe is Principal of the marketing agency ZG Stories. Following an MA in Philosophy, Zoe began her career at a trend-marketing agency in London, UK, before moving to Canada where she worked with some of Vancouver’s top PR firms, followed by D&M Publishers.

She has conceived and executed marketing campaigns for award-winning authors, publishers and charities across North America and writes regularly for publications on both sides of the Atlantic. Zoe is former Co-Chair and Director of The KidSafe Project and a current Director of WISH Drop-In Centre Society. When she is not immersed in books, Zoe travels, walks, and seeks out new varieties of pungent cheese.

Ariel, a white cisqueer, middle-aged woman with shoulder-length blonde hair, smiles at the camera warmly but a bit awkwardly. She wears a flowery blouse with short sleeves and stands in front of teal metal siding for a building.

Ariel Hudnall

Festival Marketing and PR Manager, ZG Stories

Ariel holds a Masters of Publishing from Simon Fraser University. She has been a traveler for most of her life, born in the bayous of Louisiana and raised along the coast of California, before heading east for Asia.

During a six-year stint in Japan, Ariel worked extensively with award-winning culture magazine Kyoto Journal as a consultant and designer, helping the team navigate shifting publishing landscapes. She has also worked as a workshop facilitator, teaching authors how to build up their online presence, community manager and marketer for an independent self-publishing community and is currently also the Communications Manager at ZG Stories.

Ruth, a white nonbinary person with a dark blond bob and glasses, smiles for the camera in front of some office buildings in downtown Vancouver. They are wearing a bright blue chore coat over a cream sweater.

Ruth Ormiston

Festival Accessibility Coordinator

Ruth is a second-year Master of Publishing student at Simon Fraser University, where their research focuses on increasing accessibility at literary festivals through an intersectional lens. Having previously worked as a museum programming assistant and a tour guide in their hometown of Winnipeg, Ruth is passionate about developing programs that are accessible, adaptable, and collaborative.

Ruth also holds an MA in English from the University of Victoria, where they specialized in 19th-century children’s literature. When they’re not making their way through their massive TBR list, Ruth enjoys attending concerts, knitting, and watching period films and TV shows.

Eduardo Ottoni

Eduardo Ottoni

Production Manager

Passionate about arts and culture, and building community through live events, Eduardo has over 25 years of experience in the production industry. It’s no secret that the Writers Fest was the first festival in the city to hire him as a Production Manager way back in 2003, and he has worked with us ever since!

Is it his love for fiction, or the great crew and volunteers he gets to work with? All we know is that he calls the Writers Fest his family.

James sits in his library at home, surrounded by all his books. He is wearing his favourite shirt. There are patterns of grapes, cherries, apples, oranges, plums and bananas all over the fabric. He calls it his Fruit Shirt, it makes him feel healthy and happy whenever he wears it.

James Tyler Irvine

Festival Hospitality Manager

James has been the Hospitality Host for the Vancouver Writers Fest for 16 years. Reading books is his favourite passion. James retired in 2022 after 34 years of bookselling in Edmonton and Vancouver. James lives in East Van with his partner, and their two bratty cats.

Team

Our Board

A statement from the Board of Directors

The Vancouver Writers Fest recognizes the systemic imbalances that exist and persist in the environments we create and work within. We recognize the ongoing work of members of our community, who work in the face of great barriers to right those imbalances, and we are committed to working together and in solidarity toward the goal of a more equitable and just environment for our authors, audiences, volunteers, staff, and communities. In pursuit of these goals, we commit to utilizing our resources, identifying our internal biases, and applying our varied privileges and skills with purpose. In this process, we commit to remaining open and accountable to our mistakes.

We remain grateful to the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people for their shared knowledge and guidance on these lands, as we attempt to move forward in a good way, fostering a world in which the transformative power of books and ideas is the foundation of an empathetic, inspired and just society on these unceded territories.

The Vancouver Writers Fest strives to create a welcoming space for everyone to engage with ideas that can transform our world. Safety, inclusion and acceptance are essential components of our Festival and our values.

Karen Gilmore

Chair

Karen Gilmore (she/her) is a long-time attendee of the Festival and a firm believer in the transformative power of books and ideas. Karen brings substantial experience in corporate and social profit organizations at both management and Board levels. After four decades as a corporate lawyer, Karen is currently working with The Discovery Group, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to the social profit sector.

Previously, Karen founded and led the Technology Law Group at the Vancouver office of a national law firm, before moving to an in-house legal and operational role at a Canadian book publishing company. She was then VP Legal at a private equity firm, where she also led the creation of a public foundation and was instrumental in the creation of a social enterprise business. Karen has volunteered extensively in the social profit sector, including serving as Board Member and Board Chair of each of YWCA Metro Vancouver and YWCA Canada. Karen has received many awards for her years of service in both the community and the legal profession, including the BC Community Achievement Award.

Benita Loughlin

Treasurer

Benita is a Chartered Professional Accountant with a fellowship designation (FCPA) and was a tax partner at KPMG in Vancouver until she retired on September 30, 2022. She was a cross-border tax specialist with a focus on Canadian and US tax and estate planning for individuals. She spent 36 amazing years at KPMG. 

Benita is an avid reader and has been a member of the Binding Book Club since it was founded in 1989.  She has kept a list of all the books read over the years. Supporting local books stores in Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria and Revelstoke is important to her. Benita recently joined the board of Coast Mental Health and also volunteers with the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC. 

From 2014 to 2020 she was on the executive of the Estate Planning Council of Vancouver and also a KPMG Canada Board Director. 

Michelle Blackwell

Michelle Blackwell (she/her) is a marketing and communications leader with a passion for literature and the arts. As Director of Communications & Marketing at UBC Library, she is responsible for the overall strategic direction of communications and marketing for the University’s library services, advising on issues, brand and reputation management.

Michelle spent almost a decade working in the Canadian book publishing industry with Simon & Schuster Canada and has served on several not-for-profit boards, including the Giller Light Bash in Toronto and Ballet BC Up in Vancouver. Living on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm(Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, she is committed to anti-racism, inclusive excellence and is excited about creating more opportunities for meaningful conversations through VWF.

Alison Broddle

Alison (she/her) has spent the last several decades working for the CBC, first in Vancouver, then in Toronto. She’s delighted to have recently returned to Vancouver in her role as Senior Director of Current Affairs and Investigative, where she oversees network radio programming including special projects focused on reconciliation as well as climate change. 

She’s been in charge of implementing diversity and inclusion practices at the CBC, and takes pride in the innovative programming she’s developed over the years. Alison is also a tremendous reader, former Festival fanatic, and served an extremely brief term as Board Chair of the VWF before her move to Toronto. She’s glad to be back, and to have the opportunity to rejoin the Board where she’s eager to learn what’s changed. 

Pat Cumming

Prior to retiring in 2021, Pat had a 40 year career working in school, government, academic and public libraries. In her last position as Head of Customer and Community Experience at West Vancouver Memorial Library, she had the opportunity to build community partnerships with Indigenous and newcomer groups, as well as climate organizations to deliver unique, educational programming to library patrons.  

As a Director of the BC Library Association Board she participated in strategic planning and conference organization. Along with her book club, she brought the Read for the Cure cancer fundraiser to Vancouver in 2013 and has been instrumental in planning and coordinating the event for 10 years. Her passion for reading and literature began at an early age. She has been an avid supporter of the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival for many years, maintaining a membership and attending as many events as possible. She belongs to two book clubs that have both been together for more than 20 years. 

Jaiden Dembo

Jaiden Dembo (She/Her) is a marketing and publicity professional who is deeply passionate about social and environmental justice. After attending Simon Fraser University’s Masters of Publishing program, she worked as a publicist and subsequently the Marketing and Publicity Manager at award-winning social justice publisher Arsenal Pulp Press. 

After having spent over five years in the publishing industry, Jaiden shifted to a career in renewable energy to aid in the necessary transition away from fossil fuels with her current position as a Digital Communications Coordinator at BC Hydro. She believes that storytelling in its many forms has been and always will be a crucial part of achieving an equitable and just future. 

Kyla Epstein

Living on the unceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, and working at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) provides Kyla (she/her) with opportunities to foster community through relationships built on trust, connection, accountability and shared values.
Kyla is an active volunteer having served on many boards and most recently was a member of the City of Vancouver Civic Asset Naming Committee, a Director with the BC Library Trustees Association (BCLTA), a past Chair of Vancouver Public Library, and has been a BCLTA library trustee governance trainer since 2018. Kyla currently serves on the board of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, is an active member of the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for her child’s school, and in 2017 she was selected to attend the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference (GGCLC).

Julie Iannacone

Julie (she/her) is an adjunct professor in the Master of Library and Information Studies program at the UBC School of Information. She is also self-employed as a leadership coach and consultant, focusing on ethical leadership, collaborative communication, and conflict management. She has over 30 years of experience in the public library sector, most recently as Director of Neighbourhood & Youth Services at Vancouver Public Library

—where she led services for children and teens, branch-based neighbourhood services, accessible services, and facilities development projects. She believes that public libraries are champions for equity, intellectual freedom, and access and that they connect people with books, ideas, and each other. She is pleased to be on the Board of the Vancouver Writers Fest with its aligned Vision of “A world in which the transformative power of books and ideas is the foundation of an empathetic, inspired and just society.”

Julie holds a Master of Library Science from the University of British Columbia. She is committed to lifelong learning and is excited about opportunities to promote diverse voices including those of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and Urban Indigenous Peoples.

Alexia Jones

Alexia Jones

Alexia launched Alexia Jones HR/LR Consulting in 2019 where she develops partnerships and collaboration between managers, union representatives, employees and other stakeholders in order to strategize successful approaches to complex labour relations issues and implement creative solutions to workplace problems. Alexia has worked in HR/LR in both the public and private sectors for over 20 years.

Outside of work, Alexia is an avid fan of reading and in particular loves Canadian literature. The book club that Alexia belongs to is over 10 years strong and have often been heard to describe themselves as a wine club with a reading problem.

Steve Tornes

Steve works at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement where he coordinates events both large and small, including working as a data specialist for NexTech AR Solutions, an Augmented Reality company that organizes virtual events. Through this role, he has cultivate a passion for data and analytics — skills he’s eager to bring to the Writers Fest.  

Additionally, he’s served as Chair of the Social Planning Advisory Committee as well as the Advisory Planning Commission for North Vancouver, building strong working relationships with internal and external partners, including municipal staff, elected officials, committee members, non-profit organizations, and the public. He’s he co-founder of a workers cooperative that conducts demographic research, supports organizational change, and offers workshops to create an environment where differences are valued through a culture of care. This has included facilitating workshops for the City of Vancouver regarding anti-oppression, decolonization, disability justice, equity in organizational operations, unconscious bias. 

Caroline White

Caroline (she/her) is passionate about reading and social justice -seeing the two as going hand in hand. She recognizes the inherently precarious nature of words, books, authors, libraries and independent bookstores and thus their critical importance. Caroline believes that there is a book, graphic novel or cartoon for everyone. It’s just finding the right connection. And why equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is imperative in all forms of publishing, libraries, bookstores and related events and festivals.

Caroline has worked in anti-violence services and education for over 30 years, most recently as Program Director for the Centre for Counselling and Community Safety and the Centre for Leadership at the Justice Institute of British Columbia where she focused on bringing an intersectional, decolonizing, IBPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ trauma informed lens to curriculum, training and policy development. Caroline currently lives on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the Coast Salish peoples including the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Sonia Wong

As the president and founder of Hotfusion Communications Inc., Sonia has over two decades of experience working with enterprise software and cloud companies. She has deep expertise in strategic planning, integrated marketing, and event marketing and management for some of the world’s most successful technology companies.

Through leading marketing strategy and messaging for clients such as Google Cloud, SAP, Atlassian, and Microsoft, she is continuously learning about new technologies that are changing our world. She believes human creativity is the foundation of innovation and that connecting people to books and ideas has the power to shape our world. As a lifelong reader, Sonia is particularly passionate about building opportunities to extend the transformative power of books to children and underserved communities.

Team

Accessibility Round Table

Since 2022, Writers Fest has partnered with our Accessibility Roundtable (ART) in our continuous journey to improve accessibility at our events. ART members are frequent contributors to Vancouver’s art and festival scene, and are members of the blind, Deaf, and disabled communities. We are grateful for their time, expertise, and feedback.

A white settler woman gives a warm smile to the camera. Her flat chestnut coloured hair is tucked behind one ear showcasing a chandelier earring that dangles just above her jawline.

Amy Amantea

Amy Amantea (she/her) is an Artist and Creative living with blindness, is Neurodivergent, and lives with chronic pain and chronic illness. Working,  in part,  as an Accessibility Strategist for the last 15 years, much of Amys work has been focused on a wholistic approach to access, inclusion, equity, dignity and representation of people with disabilities though artistic practices, teaching of workshops in both the non-profit and corporate sectors, sitting on a variety of boards and committees, and advocating at the government level.

Amy works as the Associate Director for VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society, the Accessibility Coordinator for the Arts Club Theatre Company and as a Media Personality for Accessible Media Inc.

A smiling Asian man who looks like he's in his mid-20's with short hair wearing a bright orange zip-up hoodie, resting his chin on his left hand.

Clovis Bernard

A Hard of Hearing person born deaf in both ears, I grew up with oral education, and currently can use both English and American Sign Language. I spent almost my entire education, including post-secondary, having used both oral and sign language interpreters.

As someone with a passion for stories, I want to make sure that the creative reasonings of authors and storytellers are accessible to all.

A black and white picture of Alison Klein. They are wearing round sunglasses, long, curly hair to the shoulders, a black lanyard, a black purse strap, a long necklace, and a grey t-shirt that has the Vancouver Folk Music Festival logo. They are holding a coffee cup and smiling. In the background, there are golf carts parked under white tents and trees.

Alison Klein

Hi, I’m Alison (she/fae). I am a white, femme presenting neurodiverse person. I am part of the Accessibility Roundtable for the Vancouver Writer’s Festival and a volunteer. I also volunteer with the Vancouver Fringe Festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and the Vancouver Pride Parade. I have a radio show and podcast on Co-op Radio 100.5 FM in Vancouver about arts and culture in the disability community, called The Self Advocate.

I also just completed my Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Adult Education, my thesis was in disability. When I am not in the disability community, I like knitting, watching The Young and The Restless, and drinking tea.

Heather is a white non-binary person with a shaved head, silver glasses, and freckles. The background is blurred. Heather is wearing a blue plaid shirt over a grey shirt with trees and white text that reads The forest is my friend.

Heather McCain

Heather McCain (they/them) is founder and Executive Director of Live Educate Transform Society (LETS), a non-profit they started in 2005. Heather built LETS from a small grassroots organization in 2 communities to an organization delivering workshops and adding their voice to projects and events across Turtle Island (colonially known as North America).

Heather is proudest to be called a Crip Doula, a Disability Justice term for someone who helps disabled people navigate our complex systems, provides resources, support, and builds community.

Ladan Sahraei

Ladan Sahraei (she/her) is an Iranian-Canadian deaf female film maker. She is the first deaf filmmaker in Iran, where she has made several short films, as well, two feature documentaries made in Canada. She has received awards and honours for her work. Filmmaking is her passion and is an avid supporter of the visual and performing arts, painting, and film in disability. Ladan has been actively involved on the boards of with a few other non-profit organizations; Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf (GVAD), Vancouver Community College, Pride In Art Society and Queer Arts Festival.

Ladan loves to make films and documentaries. She enjoys traveling around the world and meet people from a different cultures.

Anika, a white 41-year old woman smiles broadly at the camera, behind her blue glasses, her blue eyes smile with lots of crowfeet wrinkles around them. Her curly blond hair is pulled back and has some pink wisps in it.

Anika Vervecken

Anika (she/her) is a queer, neurodiverse single mom who was born in Belgium. She is a leader in accessibility for performing arts who uses her background in theatre, music and translation as well as her own lived experience to fully implement and hone her skills and vision as an access activator. Her work testifies to an ongoing pursuit of new ways to invite people to experience live performance by developing new initiatives and innovative techniques based on input from the community they aim to support.

A new aspect of her work has been examining how to provide the same support for staff through a culture of care and questioning organisational structures. Because accessibility is a hollow concept if we only provide it for our patrons.

Volunteer

We love our volunteers!

Volunteers are the backbone of Festival Week, and we’re proud to have so many returning volunteers each year.

Our volunteers help with author hospitality, box office, raffle, book sales, photography, social media amplification, copying, printing, and Program Guide distribution. We provide light snacks, good cheer, and a chance to hang with some of the most exciting thinkers on the planet.

Click here for more information about volunteering.

VWF Programs

The Festival

Our flagship October
Festival on Granville Island.

The highlight of our year, our week-long Festival welcomes more than 20,000 attendees to Granville Island and thousands more from around the globe through our online streaming platforms. Featuring 100+ events at venues of all sizes, our events are highly curated, offering audiences the opportunity to listen to world-leading writers in conversation about a range of themes.

In addition to curation by our Artistic Director, the Festival welcomes a Guest Curator and Spoken Word Curator to envision multiple events each year.

View the 2022 Program Guide
View the 2021 Program Guide

Special Events

Special Events

Year-round events for celebrated new releases.

During our Special Events, we host some of the most celebrated names in the Canadian and international literary community. These sold-out events take place on Vancouver’s premiere stages, igniting conversation and book buying, or virtually with a book and ticket model when social distancing is required.

Incite

Free springtime events in collaboration with Vancouver Public Library.

Our free reading series offers conversations between authors every two weeks from January to June, presented in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library and with support from the Vancouver Downtown Business Improvement Association. Guests include emerging authors and established writers, speaking with a moderator and each other about multiple themes

Youth

Books, events and resources to spark students’ imaginations.

Our Youth Education Programming (YEP) connects students with celebrated writers from across the globe through a series of initiatives. These include our flagship Festival events designed specifically for young people, teachers, schools and student groups, in addition to our Writers in the Classroom program and Youth Writing contest. Discover more about YEP here.

Books & Brunch

Sumptuous food, views and ideas on Granville Island.

Books & Brunch combines author conversation with a delicious brunch at Dockside Restaurant in the boutique Granville Island Hotel. These spring and summer events regularly sell out, and have previously featured authors Shelley Wood (The Quintland Sisters), Terry Fallis (The Albatross) and Karma Brown (Recipe for a Perfect Wife).

Whisky & Words

Our annual whisky tasting fundraiser

During weekend-long events, patrons can attend Masterclasses, enjoy world class whisky and favourite local food pairings. Our primary fundraising event has been a vital source of revenue to support our Youth Education Program, connecting over 7,000 BC kids to celebrated writers, empowering them to see the impact of books and words on enhancing our community.

Visit whiskywords.ca for more information.

My Roots

A writing workshop for new immigrants to explore their craft

Our annual, two-day writing workshop encourages immigrants to develop and share their stories of place, as mentored by an award-winning writer and teacher. Through a mix of writing exercises and easy lessons on how to write well, the workshop encouraged writers at all levels to think imaginatively about those places and landscapes called ‘home’.