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McMurray to Host First Ever Writer’s Conference

Our first ever writer’s conference, Western Perceptions, was postponed in 2020 like numerous global events due to you know what.

And now it’s back from December 8-10, 2022 bringing together best-selling Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors for a free three-day festival.

It will include workshops held across several sites in Wood Buffalo such as the Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre, Doug Barnes Cabin, Anzac, and Fort McKay. Register here to see the exact locations for various events, and for the keynote address by Drew Hayden Taylor.

The conference is hosted by Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) and presented by Fort McKay First Nation. Highlights of the line-up include Brandon Mitchell, who is the founder of Birch Bark Comics and creator of the Sacred Circles comic series, which explores his Mi’kmaq heritage through a contemporary lens. Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibway playwright, “journalist/columnist (appearing regularly in several Canadian newspapers and magazines), short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, he has worked on numerous documentaries exploring the Native experience.” Fort McMurray’s own Michael Mankowski, screen writer and director, who is the well-known award-winning producer of Back Home Again, his recent animated film, released last year, capturing the 2016 wildfires, and featuring the voice talents of celebrities like Michael J. Fox, Jeremy Renner, Catherine O’Hara, Tantoo Cardinal, Martin Short, Howie Mandel, and Lorne Cardinal, to name a few.

Hanna Fridhed, Programs Coordinator, ACWB notes, “we are thrilled to see it finally happening! The writer’s conference was initiated by local artist Fred McDonald and author Therese Greenwood, who are conference co-directors too – with support from Arts Council Wood Buffalo.”

“The vision for the conference is to support local writers and readers, and to discuss topics such as the idea of the ‘Western Hero’ and ‘Indian’ stereotype in popular media and how artists, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous, deal with these subjects. The artists on the discussion panel include local and national playwrights, graphic novel authors, poets and film-makers. They all bring different perspectives and experiences, forging an interesting dialogue about the creative process, points of view and how to approach culture across different artistic expressions.”

Fridhed adds, people should attend, because “all events during this conference are free and open to the public (with the exception of the two high school workshops in Anzac and Fort McKay). It’s a rare opportunity for Wood Buffalo residents to meet with and learn from nationally acclaimed literary and media artists.”

So true and what a treat. Complete author line-up, bios and further details can be found via: https://artscouncilwb.ca/acwb_blog/western-perceptions.

About the author

Author Profile
Kiran Malik-Khan

Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.

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