2022 Conference Sessions

2022 CNFC Conference

Conference Sessions

All sessions included with registration. Stay tuned for details!

Thursday, June 9

7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT

Keynote Address: A Foot in Both Worlds – Omar Mouallem (host: Margaret Lynch)

They say that religion and politics are impolite discussions, but they were the main focuses of Omar Mouallem’s new book about Muslims in the West. From the Arctic circle to the edge of the Amazon, he travelled to a dozen communities across 10,000 kilometres, interviewing 100 people in five languages, often in sacred places, about sensitive issues in their communities and personal lives. But the author also had a personal perspective to share with both his subjects and the reader. How did he handle the delicate balance of personal insights and objective storytelling? What lessons can he offer us about reporting from marginalized communities and foreign places? In this honest and revealing keynote, Omar, a journalist by profession, discusses his attempt to write a deeply reported and deeply personal travelogue with sympathy, rigour, and transparency.

Before the keynote, CNFC will put forth a Call for Action for CNFC members to support PEN Canada honorary member and Eritrean playwright, Dawit Isaak, who has been wrongfully imprisoned with other writers for over 20 years by the Eritrean government. Please write to: H.E. Sophia Tesfamariam Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations 800 Second Avenue 18th Floor New York, NY 100171. More info: https://freedawit.com/english/ and https://www.raoulwallenbergcentre.org/en/press-releases/2021-10-05

Please see a sample letter and petition here.

Friday, June 10

12:00 – 1:30 pm EDT

Panel: Writing Risk – Myrna Kostash, Donna Besel, Angie Abdou (host: Ruby Swanson)

What are the risks when interviewing dissidents in a communist country or writing about your children and family members? Do authors have a choice or is it their responsibility to take risks? Where does privacy end and societal responsibility takeover? Three determined and courageous authors talk about the risks they’ve taken as memoir writers and political journalists.

Please note topics discussed during this session could trigger anxiety.

2:00 – 3:30 pm EDT

Workshop: Writing About Conservation, Wildlife, and Eco-Advocacy – Kevin Van Tighem (host: Jean Crozier)

Which environmental disaster propelled you into advocacy? Have you been able to get your views published? This workshop is led by Kevin Van Tighem, a former Canadian national parks superintendent, now an environmental advocate who knows what he’s talking about. His science-based, common-sense advocacy has been presented in over 200 articles, books and essays — even his FaceBook page has almost 3,000 followers. Bring your own environmental concerns to this workshop: Kevin wants to talk with you, listen as you describe the issues you want to write about, then discuss the approaches that will give you the best chance of success in publishing.

4:00 – 5:30 pm EDT

Panel: A Conversation about Creative Aging – Rona Altrows, Sharon Butala, Keith Maillard (moderator: Lenore Rowntree)

None of us have a choice about the fact of aging, so it’s important for us to age as well as we can. This includes aging creatively, something which is especially important for writers, young and old. Join a conversation with three writers who haven’t slowed down with age, who continue to produce and publish inventive and innovative work. Learn what challenges and successes drive this process for them.

6:30 – 8:00 pm EDT

Workshop: Organized Chaos – Omar Mouallem (host: Margaret Lynch)

Writing nonfiction—whether memoir, manifesto, or reported narratives—means scouring for truths inside books, articles, photo albums, conversations, and more. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what we unearth, to the point that we might struggle to piece things together, or even forget our best discoveries by the time we start writing. In this workshop, author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker Omar Mouallem demonstrates simple ways to organize bounties of information. From transcripts and maps to images and data records, he’ll walk you through DIY systems he’s created to keep a handle on his research.

Saturday, June 11

12:00 – 1:30 pm EDT

In Conversation: Me Tomorrow: Indigenous Views on the Future – Drew Hayden Taylor, Shelley Knott Fife, Amos Key Jr. (host: Myrna Kostash)

Drew Hayden Taylor writes, “Within the Native community, our imagination, our sense of what is possible was as wide, as expressive and as detailed as any other people on the face of the Earth.” Join us for a fascinating discussion about imagining the future and cultivating a better one.

2:00 – 3:30 pm EDT

Panel: Self-Publishing – Terry Fallis, Zoe Grams, Laurel Deedrick-Mayne (host: Jean Crozier)

You’ve researched, written, re-written and edited – the narrative is eloquent, the structure complex, the grammar and spelling correct. Now what are you going to do – pitch to the publishers or self-publish? What do you need to know about self-publishing? There are several companies who provide book production services. Selling your book takes a whole different skill set than did writing it! Our panelists, Zoe Grams, Terry Fallis, and Laurel Deedrick-Mayne have achieved exceptional success in self-publishing. They will share their experience, with a focus on getting that manuscript out of your hands and into those of the readers.  Be prepared to listen and to take notes as they discuss the role of platforms and media, and the effectiveness of influencing, blogs and book signings.

4:00 – 5:30 pm EDT

Panel: Pitching and Editing – Omar Mouallem, Steven Sandor, Evan Osenton, Chelene Knight (host: Carissa Halton)

At the centre of every editor and literary agent’s work are great ideas worth sharing. In this 90-minute panel discussion, learn how to pitch your ideas so they get noticed and published. Whether you’re working on a book or magazine length idea, this panel of editors, authors and an agent will get real about what it takes to move an idea from our heads to the published page.

5:30 – 5:45 pm EDT

CNFC-HLR 2022 Nonfiction Contest: Results Announcement – Omar Mouallem

7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT

CNFC Members’ Readings: Celebrating CNFC Members with Book Launches in 2022 (host: Jannie Edwards)

Sunday, June 12

12:00 – 1:30 pm EDT

Reading Circle: Writers Sharing Contemplative/Spiritual Writing (host: Jannie Edwards and others)

This is a personal invitation to gather online with a small group of other creative nonfiction writers to share life writing that explores spirit, however your experience and understanding of spirituality manifests in your life: as intuition, mystery, friendship, family, joy, resilience, history, the sacred and the profane.

We are living through a time of collective anxiety and disruption. We have been assaulted by two years of a global pandemic; increasingly ominous and extreme weather; the shocking discovery of unmarked graves at sites of former residential schools; and the rise of intense conflict and discrimination against those perceived as other. Our lives and writing practices have undoubtedly been affected by these currents.

The guiding metaphor for these reading groups is the open bowl. The bowl has a minimal, even rigid structure that opens to receptivity and sharing.  In this spirit, each writer is invited to read from a shorter work, whole or excerpted, of 10 minutes in length. Please keep introductions and context acutely streamlined so that space is created for words to open into ideas. The idea is not to respond directly to the reader – that can happen later if participants wish to exchange contacts—but rather to listen.

2:00 – 3:30 pm EDT

2022 CNFC AGM: CNFC Board and all members welcome


We gratefully acknowledge the support of our 2022 conference sponsors:

Canada Council of the Arts



University of King's College Halifax

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