12th Annual NorthWords Writers Festival 2017


By presenting the theme of Reconciliation: Honoring the past and looking to the future are aiming to support and encourage national and local writers, storytellers, and authors to contribute to the goals and recommendations set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Reports and Call to Action. We also hope that we can inspire people to think and write about reconciliation in all contexts (personal, social, political) and among and between different people.

Festival Schedule

2017 Festival Authors

Tracey Lindberg

Tracey Lindbergh is a citizen of As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree and hails from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation community. She is an award-winning academic writer and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa. She was the first Indigenous woman in Canada to complete her law degree at Harvard University and is thought to be the first Indigenous woman to earn a Ph.D. in law from a Canadian University. Her 2015 debut novel, Birdie, was a bestseller and a 2016 Canada Reads finalist. She has two new works of fiction on the way.

Rosanna Deerchild is an award-winning author and poet. Her debut poetry collection this is a small northern town shares her reflections of growing up in a racially divided place. It won the 2009 Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. Her second book, ‘calling down the sky,’ is her mother’s Residential School survivor story. It was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and was shortlisted for two Manitoba Book Awards – the  Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and McNally Robinson Book of the Year in 2016.

Rosanna is a co-founder and member of the Indigenous Writers Collective of Manitoba. A Cree from O-Pipon-Na-Piwan Cree Nation at South Indian Lake in northern Manitoba, Rosanna now lives in her found home of North End, Winnipeg and is the host of Unreserved on CBC Radio One.

Melanie Florence is a writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Aboriginal themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and is a Forest of Reading Golden Oak Finalist. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night, and Rez Runaway.

In her spare time, Melanie watches Doctor Who and Harry Potter with her daughter, discusses the DC vs Marvel Universes with her son and makes her husband sit through scary movies with her. She shares her home with her family, their two dogs (Henry and Daisy), two cats (Shadow and Oreo), an ever-increasing number of aquarium creatures…and according to her daughter, a house elf who refuses to help with chores.


Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg and a member of Alderville First Nation.She is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, and artist, who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Her work breaks open the intersections between politics, story, and song—bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity.

Working for over a decade an independent scholar using Nishnaabeg intellectual practices, Leanne has lectured and taught extensively at universities across Canada and has twenty years experience with Indigenous land-based education. She holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba, is currently faculty at the Dechinta Centre for Research & Learning in Denendeh (NWT) and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University. 

As a writer, Leanne was named the inaugural RBC Charles Taylor Emerging writer by Thomas King. She has published extensive fiction and poetry in both book and magazine form. Her second book of short stories and poetry, This Accident of Being Lost is a follow up to the acclaimed Islands of Decolonial Love and will be published by the House of Anansi Press in Spring 2017.

Leanne is also a musician combining poetry, storytelling, songwriting and performance in collaboration with musicians to create unique spoken songs and soundscapes. Leanne’s second record f(l)light produced by Jonas Bonnetta (Evening Hymns), was released in the fall of 2016 on RPM Records.

Hope Nicholson is the owner of Winnipeg-based publisher Bedside Press, which focuses on publishing new and old stories from all cultures and walks of life. A historian of comics, she’s worked to bring attention to 1940s Canadian comic book history as a producer on the film Lost Heroes and the publisher of the 1940s Canadian comic book collections Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Brok Windsor, Polka Dot Pirate, and Wow Comics #01. Recently, she was the curator and original publisher of the anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls now published by Dark Horse Comics and was responsible for putting together the NYT #1 best-selling Angel Catbird trilogy by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, & Tamra Bonvillain, also from Dark Horse

She has published Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time, an Indigenous LGBT sci-fi anthology, and was the editor of Moonshot vol. 1 & 2, an Indigenous comics anthology by AH Comics. She is the author of the upcoming book The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Quirk Books. She has been named as one of the Top 30 under 30 female entrepreneurs in Canada by Flare Magazine (but she is no longer under 30).

Sam Bassam Halevy aka Bassam is a queer, Jewish-Arab spoken word poet from the Greater Toronto Area, Canada. He was the 2016 grand slam champion of the Guelph Poetry Slam and a national slam champion at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) in 2016. Bassam has participated at national and international poetry slam competitions including the National Poetry Slam and Individual Poetry Slam in the United States, the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, and the Ontario International Poetry Slam.

Bassam’s latest poetry chapbook and full-length spoken word recording, ‘mouth:/poem.smile’, was released in the spring of 2016. He toured Turtle Island “North America” in fall 2016, performing in 15 different cities across the continent.

Bassam’s love of social justice is reflected beyond the bounds of poetry: he has been a vocal advocate for the rights of Palestinians and a previously-active member of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada’s National Steering Committee. Bassam also advocates for eating disorder awareness and recovery as a regular showcase performer for the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED) as well as panelist for the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) during Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW).

In addition to a chapbook and book release both slated for release in 2017, Bassam is currently the editor in chief for ‘these pills don’t come in my skin tone‘, an upcoming poetry collection exclusively by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour from across Canada on the topic of mental health and illness, to be released in fall 2017.

Laurie Sarkadi is an award-winning writer, producer and editor of EDGE YK magazine in Yellowknife. Her new memoir, Voice in the Wild, chronicles the healing synchronicities and confluences she experiences with bears, wolves and other creatures after her social activism embroils her in legal battles. She moved to Yellowknife as the Edmonton Journal’s northern bureau chief then spent sixteen years telling northerners’ stories through CBC radio and television. She won CBC’s English Television Award for producing Living Hope, a live, interactive special on suicide prevention in Nunavut and has been cited for Western Canadian and National magazine awards. Her non-fiction appears in Canadian Geographic, The Globe and Mail, thewalrus.ca and the anthologies: Dropped Threads 3 and Kitchen Talk. She lives off-grid in Akaitcho Territory with her husband where they raised three sons.