Our annual conference, Writing True 14, was held in Toronto in early May. We had 112 attendees, three sold-out Master Classes with waiting lists for each, and 18 presenters, speakers, and workshop leaders who all arrived on time, in the right place, in spite of some wild Toronto weather!

We had many positive comments from those who completed our conference evaluation form. Standouts, in no particular order, were Dinty Moore, the conversation between Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga, our First Page event (which one attendee described as a “master class in getting your first page read by an agent”), Kamal Al-Solaylee’s thought-provoking keynote address, Mandy Len Catron’s session on the essay, Betsy Warland’s master class on form, the conversation between Pauline LeBel and Waubgisheg Rice, and Lorri Neilsen-Glenn’s master class on “navigating rivers of connection.” A few also commented on our “helpful, gracious” volunteers. That would be the wonderful, hard-working Toronto conference committee!

We recorded two sessions this year – Kamal’s keynote address, and the conversation with Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga. We’ll be posting these on our website soon, with access available to all CNFC members.

In Conversation: Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga at the 2018 CNFC Conference. Photo credit: Kirsten Fogg
In Conversation: Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga at the 2018 CNFC Conference.
Photo credit: Kirsten Fogg

For me, there were some striking moments. Lee Maracle, in her conversation with Tanya Talaga, saying that if English is not your first language but you’re forced to use it, it’s as if you are cut in half – your head and body can’t communicate, you can’t feel what you’re saying. In that moment, I felt, as much as I understood, what that meant. Carol Off, telling us how the experience she describes in her book, All We Leave Behind, has changed her forever as a journalist and a human being. Tanya Talaga, describing how Stan Beardy, the Grand Chief of the Nishnabe Aski Nation, refused to answer her questions about Indigenous voting, but said, again and again, “why aren’t you writing about Jordan Wabasse? He’s been gone for 70 days.”

I’m sure many of you have your own moments that you will carry forward with you. Let us know, and we’ll share them in a future newsletter.

Thank-you to everyone who attended, to the many people who travelled to Toronto, to the new members who joined. We appreciate the support of every one of you.


Our new Board of Directors was elected:
President:   Judy McFarlane
Vice-President:   Pamela Couture
Treasurer:   Jane Silcott
Membership:   Kathy Seifert
Recording Secretary:   Cathy Cooper
Directors at Large:   Shelley O’Callaghan, Chris Moore, and Lissa Cowan

We approved the Treasurer’s Report.

We will continue to move ahead with applying to become a National Arts Service Organization, which, if successful, will give us charitable tax status, with the ability to issue tax receipts for donations.

We discussed whether our membership fee of $50 per year should be increased. After some discussion, we voted to keep the annual fee the same, but to create a new designation of member called Sustaining Member. While details will appear soon, the idea is that anyone can become a Sustaining Member by voluntarily paying more than the annual membership fee, in effect making a donation to CNFC. The Board will need to decide how those funds will be used, but the intent at the AGM was to find a way to support members who otherwise might not be able to attend our AGM.

We talked about possibly connecting with other writing conferences, such as the Festival of Literary Diversity, or the Canadian Writer’s Summit, to mention a couple of examples, and decided that the Board would look into these possibilities. We discussed, but made no decision, about where to hold our conference next year. Much for the new Board to decide!

And the popular standing desk, generously donated again this year by Fitneff, was won by Pauline Le Bel.


If you have concerns, questions, suggestions, please let me or one of our Board members know. You can always contact us through this email address:, or you can contact me directly at

Thanks very much. Here’s to a great year for CNFC!

Judy McFarlane,

The 2018 CNFC Conference

Where?  Here…

Emmanuel College of Victoria University
in the University of Toronto

75 Queen’s Park Crescent
Toronto, ON
M5S 1K7 

Google Map Coordinates

View the digital version of our 2018 Conference Program

The nearest subway stop is Museum. From Union Station, take Line 1 (University) and get off at Museum. The TTC exit is right outside Emmanuel College. The nearest accessible station on both Line 1 and 2 is St George. 

What’s happening when? Check out our Conference Program. 

 Still need accommodation? We have a few suggestions!  

Note: Registration for the conference is now closed but individual tickets are available for a few events at the door. 

Coming from Out of Town?  

Conference Committee Member Cathy Cooper has put together a short but informative guide of nearby places to eat, things to see and do, and transportation details. Download our CNFC Conference Quick Reference Guide.

And if your driving to the conference, here’s a Emmanuel College Parking.

See you soon!


Canada Council for the Arts logoAccess Copyright Foundation logoOntario Media Development Corporation logo
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The winner will be announced on May 5 in Toronto, ON at the 14th annual CNFC conference.

The shortlist was selected by contest judge, Betsy Warland.


“Lucky Number Seven,” by Emily Kellogg.

Emily Kellogg’s writing has appeared in publications such as FLARE, The Huffington Post, and The Puritan. In 2017, her creative nonfiction work received an honourable mention in Room Magazine‘s CNF competition and was shortlisted for PRISM International‘s CNF prize. Photo of Emily Kellogg


“Descent into Darkness,” by Nancy O’Rourke.

Photo of Nancy O'RourkeExperienced sociologist Nancy O’Rourke’s creative nonfiction was recently recognized by Memoir Magazine. “Descent into Darkness” is adapted from a memoir-in-progress that examines processes of forgiveness, focusing on a group of children she befriended in Rwanda in 1992, lost during the genocide, and found 18 years later.




“What’s Coming for You,” by Julie Paul.

Photo of Julie PaulJulie Paul lives and writes in Victoria, BC. She was the winner of the 2016 Edna Staebler Personal Essay Award and has published two books of short fiction. The Rules of the Kingdom, her first book of poetry, is shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.





Congratulations to our three finalists and thank you to everyone who participated!

Carte Blanche Logo

The countdown is on for the CNFC’s annual conference in Toronto!

Banner for the CNFC Conference 2018 featuring photos of Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga

With stimulating panels, hands-on workshops, opportunities to mingle and share your work, and more, this conference promises to be one of our best yet.

See the full program here.

And if you need accommodation, click here.


First Page Event

You’ve finished a draft of your manuscript and you’re not quite sure about that opening. Your friends love it. Your dog loves it. Your mother loves it. But will it pass muster with a wider audience? Wouldn’t you like to know what the pros think? Find out from our panel of publishing experts at The First Page.

How: Submit the first page of a manuscript-in-progress, double spaced, in 12-point font to by April 22. Any sub-genre of creative nonfiction is acceptable.

You may also add a paragraph to give the necessary context. For example: “This is the opening of my biography of XYZ,” or “This is a memoir about living with cancer.” “This book uses case studies to ask questions about the environment.” Give us your three-sentence elevator pitch. Let us know what you aim to do and why the book’s important.

Please, no names or identifying information; entries will be judged blind and chosen on the basis of what a discussion of their strengths and possible weaknesses might teach us as a group.

What will happen: Our panel of publishing experts will read and evaluate your writing sample onstage for an audience of your peers. The page will be projected on a screen so all can read it.

Please come prepared for an honest, perhaps bracing, but fundamentally supportive conversation about your work, which will arm you with concrete suggestions for change and encourage you to dive into revisions.


Carte Blanche and the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society are pleased to announce the long list for our 2017-18 Creative Nonfiction Competition:

“Father’s Day” by Christine Barbetta
“Anne” by Beethina Clavette
“Passage” by Jennifer Delisle
“Lucky Number Seven” by Emily Kellogg
“East Vancrowver” by Jennifer Lori
“Estranged Magic” by Kim McCullough
“Laundry Day” by Christina Myers
“Descent into Darkness” by Nancy O’Rourke
“What’s Coming For You” by Julie Paul
“All There Was” by Bill Penner

Hailing from coast to coast, these ten writers have tackled a range of important subjects with distinctive voice, lively prose, and evident craft. Congratulations to all, and a big thanks to everyone who entered.

Thanks also to our preliminary readers, Joshua Levy and Monica Meneghetti.

The winner of the contest will be announced at the Creative Nonfiction Collective’s annual conference, May 4-6, in Toronto, Ontario.

Registration for the CNFC’s 14th Annual Writing True Conference is now closed.

Join us from May 4-6 for an exciting roster of Master Classes, panels, workshops, interviews, and opportunities to meet and share ideas with old friends and new, in the CNFC’s first ever conference in Toronto.

We’ll meet at Victoria University, within the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. A short stroll to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Gardiner Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, Yorkville, Queen’s Park, and so much more, our venue is right at the heart of Canada’s most multi-cultural metropolis.

We’ve done our best to keep prices low for a big-city event.

Looking for ACCOMMODATION while staying in Toronto?

Registration for our upcoming conference in Toronto is now closed.

Thank-you to everyone who registered. We’re looking forward to meeting you in Toronto!

What’s Included

The regular Conference fee includes publishing and editing panels on the afternoon of Friday, May 4 followed by a light meal (with cash bar) and a keynote address by noted journalist and memoirist Kamal Al-Solaylee.

Saturday brings a full day of panels, discussions, workshops with invited speakers and member presenters, together with lunch, dinner, and our fabulous Literary Cabaret. We’ll round things off on Sunday with our annual general meeting.

Hoping to focus on questions of craft? Then consider signing up for one or more of our superb interactive Master Classes on Friday, May 4 for a small extra fee. ($25 for members; $40 for non-members) Note: Maximum 25 participants per class.

Join us also for free, on- and off-site events on Thursday, May 3 and the afternoon of Sunday, May 6.

Read the full 2018 program details.

And if you’d like to bring a guest, select individual events (Keynote address and Conversation with Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga) as well as evening meals, are also available for a small extra charge.

Follow this link for more information.



Need a place to stay in Toronto? We’ve got you sorted.

Knowing that many of you are coming from a distance, we’ve aimed to arrange accommodations at different price levels and affordability.

First, we’ve negotiated a conference rate at The Chelsea ($179+tax a night). The Chelsea is three subway stops or a 20-minute walk from the conference venue and offers the usual amenities, including free wi-fi, pool, etc. Please mention the Creative Nonfiction Collective conference when booking.

Book your room at The Chelsea Hotel (CNFC Conference Rate)

Looking for a less expensive option? Or maybe you’d like to stay even closer to the Conference venue or want to share a room with a friend. In that case, you might prefer the dormitory at Victoria University on the University of Toronto campus.

Victoria dorms offer single or double rooms (twin beds) and shared washrooms. Internet is available but you must have an ethernet cable. Breakfast is included.

Click here to book accommodation at Victoria University (within the University of Toronto)

Please include the conference name: The Canadian Creative Nonfiction Collective Society Meeting 2018.

Regular Rate 2018

$75.00 per single room / per night (+ 13% HST = $84.75)

$100.00 per double room / per night (+ 13% HST = $113.00)

Note that neither venue is the official conference lodging, and we encourage you to seek out other options if neither of these locations suit your specific needs.

Important dates and other information

Payment is due when you register. Pay through Paypal or by cheque. Please make cheques payable to the Creative Nonfiction Collective and mail them to the address below:

2046 East 4th Avenue,
Vancouver, BC V5N 1K4

The last day of registration is April 22. No refunds after April 22.

Cancellations up to April 22: $30 administration fee.

Master Classes: Please register for master classes separately. Registration for our master classes is limited.

Guests: You may register one guest for Saturday night’s dinner. Guest registrations are also available for Friday’s keynote address and light dinner, and Saturday morning’s “In Conversation.”