The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts will start its fifth decade by featuring a woman of letters who has proposed practical steps for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
The festival’s annual Rockwood Lecture will be delivered by Jody Wilson-Raybould, a member of the We Wai Kai First Nation whose name in the Kwak’wala language is Puglaas. Wilson-Raybould formerly served as an independent Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville until her resignation in 2019. While earlier a member of the federal cabinet, Wilson-Raybould spent five years as Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
Her most recent book is True Reconciliation: How to Be a Force for Change.
Wilson-Raybould’s appearance at the upcoming event was highlighted in an official announcement of participating authors released last week by the festival’s artistic and executive director Marisa Alps.
Alps was appointed to the position last year and worked alongside previous director Jane Davidson to produce the 2022 festival.
The 41st annual festival, scheduled to run from Aug. 17 to 20, reflects the diverse topology of Canada’s literary landscape. “I wanted to program a festival that would offer a lot of choice around the types of events and the authors who are speaking,” said Alps. “My hope is that most folks will find at least one event in the festival that they will want to attend.”
Sunshine Coast authors are highlighted in two events. Ted Chamberlin (author of Storylines: How Words Shape Our World) and Theresa Kishkan (Blue Portugal and Other Essays) will read from their most recent books and discuss the power of narrative. Acclaimed fiction author Janie Chang will read from The Porcelain Moon, an intercultural romance set in France during the First World War and its aftermath.
Bestselling author John Vaillant, author of Fire Weather, will unpack his investigation of the 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray, and explore the evolving relationship between fire and humankind.
Bob McDonald, longtime host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks and author of several bestselling science books, will discuss his latest publication. The Future Is Now examines how some of today’s technologies might help humankind achieve a greener future.
Danny Ramadan, an award-winning Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker and advocate for LGBTQ+ refugees, will present his second novel, The Foghorn Echoes. The book was recently shortlisted for both the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and a Lambda Literary Award.
The festival’s opening event on Aug. 17 will feature Sunshine Coast musician Simon Paradis in a collaboration with journalist Adriana Barton. The duo’s performance will embody concepts described in Barton’s book, Wired for Music: A Search for Health and Joy Through the Science of Sound.
Other presenting authors include Ian and Will Ferguson, both winners of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour; first-time novelists Jessica Johns and Sheila Murray; internationally bestselling author Tom Rachman; award-winning Gitxsan writer, journalist and artist Angela Sterritt; and ocean journalist and author Laura Trethewey.
Wilson-Raybould’s keynote lecture is scheduled for Aug. 19.
“What she has to say — about being a force for change — is so important,” said Alps. “She’ll tell us what we need to hear.”
The festival will close on Aug. 20 with a musical event featuring Tom and Kalissa Landa, both members of the Vancouver band The Paperboys.
Tickets for the 2023 Festival of the Written Arts will go on sale June 5 at 9 a.m.
A complete list of authors and purchase information can be found online at writersfestival.ca.