The North Shore Writers Fest

A Light For Local Authors

Avery Nowicki (she/her) // Contributor 
Sarah Haglund (she/her) // Illustrator

For the past twenty years, The North Shore Writers Fest has unified local writers and readers alike in a celebration of the written word. Despite originally taking place exclusively in so-called North Vancouver and this year was no different and have since moved online entirely due to Covid-19. However as restrictions ease, the choice to stay online or move back in-person remains undecided and the impact this has on young local writers is to be determined.

Discussing with festival facilitator Meghan Crowe (She/Her) and West Vancouver Memorial Librarian Kendra Sakamoto (She/Her), they share their struggles with engaging youth and young adults in recent years despite their best efforts. When asked about the steps they’ve taken to promote this festival, Crowe told the Courier, “We have a fairly intricate communication plan, including posters, Facebook and other social media platforms, as well as traditional print media.” Their outreach work is seen by  their social media following of almost 700 followers on Instagram and their Facebook account trailing not far behind, print ads easily found around the North Shore and promoted through discussion throughout the small pockets of the literary community entangling the city. Yet why is it that so few young writers and readers attend? 

While Crowe and Sakamoto are just as unsure about the reasoning behind the seemingly dying literary scene for young people as many so-called Vancouver writers, they try their best regardless to create a welcoming space for all the writers hiding in the shadows of the North Shore. Sakamoto spoke on her opinion of this matter, stating “We want to create a wonderful experience for everyone who comes, our goal is to create a community around Canadian literature.”

Although their switch to a virtual festival may be a significant factor, Crowe spoke on how this format is far better for those who are already in the festival’s target demographic. “We had incredible feedback with the virtual format [last year], it was preferred by those with accessibility issues and those away from the North Shore.” However, they do recognize that this format does exclude those who struggle to gain access to a reliable internet connection and the online format as a whole. An all virtual festival may also further contribute to the lack of youth attendees, with both Crowe and Sakamoto thinking that perhaps youth and young adults are wanting to spend more time making in person connections again. As a way to combat this issue, they included more events with a focus on young people this year. Creating an event around children’s books and graphic novels as a way to grab their younger hopeful audiences’ attention. Outside of the festival, they also encourage young writers to participate in the North Shore authors collections, a program that has published authors as young as eight years old. Applications run May 2nd-June 30th 2022 and writers are heavily encouraged to submit

The North Shore Writers Festival is constantly amazed by the success of the event each year and the community that has sparked surrounding it. Crowe and Sakamoto add that the goal of the festival is to shed a light on local Canadian authors and that they hope to let local authors know they are encouraged to participate every year, the door is open and waiting for them. 

Although this event has passed, having taken place April 26th – 30th 2022 the Courier wanted to highlight the festival and the work that goes into it. For more information visit northshorewritersfestival.com or follow them on instagram at @nswritersfest.

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