The NorthWords Writers Festival was founded after a group of literary enthusiasts envisioned a summer literary festival in Yellowknife that would support Northern and Indigenous writers by allowing them to share the stage with established writers from southern Canada. The first festival took place on the August long weekend that same year. The NorthWords Writers Festival Society was established the following year in May 2007. The annual festival continued to grow in popularity in 2008, the event was moved to June. Today the festival has been transformed from a three-day event that drew a few hundred literary buffs to a four-day festival that attracts around 1,000 people.
The annual festival helps both emerging and established northern writers develop their craft by giving them the opportunity to attend and/or take part in public readings, mentorships, panel discussions, workshops, a writing contest, as well informal meetings with each other and guest authors. We have also encouraged the development of young Northern and Indigenous writers by sponsoring events for schools.
After the second successful festival in August 2007, the Society began to see the need to provide support for writers throughout the year as well as during an annual festival. The following year, the Society introduced workshops and other literary events to its annual program.
In 2010, NorthWords NWT also began to reach out to writers in other NWT communities with a three-author tour of Fort Smith, Hay River, and Yellowknife. The festival now offers events in all three communities.
NorthWords NWT took another leap forward in 2012 with the publication of our anthology Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories. This anthology featured the work of 17 NWT writers, half of whom were emerging writers being published for the first time. This anthology has enjoyed an extraordinary reception from the reading public and has been an important step in the development of NWT writers. It has resulted in increased participation and interest in northern literary events.
Today, NorthWords NWT is a major supporter of NWT authors. It is proud to foster the careers of both emerging and established northern writers by offering workshops, mentorships, opportunities to read their work and hosting events where they can share the stage with established Canadian authors. NorthWords NWT is proud to link authors to readers and to contribute to NWT literacy by supporting the development of an NWT Literary Culture.