'Diversity in all forms' taking front cover at Windsor Bookfest

Of the 18 writers invited to the event, nine are women and one is transsexual.

Of the 18 writers invited to the event, nine are women and one is transsexual

From L to R, Bookfest director Sarah Jarvis, French school board community liaison officer Yasmine Joheir, CSC Providence spokesperson Carole Papineau and Association of French Canadians in Ontario director Gisèle Dionne. (Floriane Bonneville/Radio-Canada)

Windsor's 17th Bookfest has officially launched, with an emphasis on the #MeToo movement, diversity and Indigenous writers.

Though the festival's official theme is "the power of stories," Bookfest director Sarah Jarvis said diversity in all forms is a major focus — of the 18 writers invited to the event, nine are women and one is transsexual.

"It's important to hear and listen to everyone's story, especially women's, during a time when the #MeToo movement is gaining in popularity," said Jarvis.

Reaching out to youth

Jarvis said the festival is also a great opportunity for visitors to learn more about what it means to be a professional writer.

"We encourage writing, reading, and most importantly, we want to help people listen to each other," she said, adding it is great that kids from elementary school to university students can be influenced by the literary world.

The Armouries is hosting this year's Bookfest for the first time. For Jarvis, the location can better reach young minds.

Bookfest's partnership with different school boards and institutions allowed the festival to create contests and workshops that give children the chance to gain some practice with professional writing.

Diversity at the centre

The presence of francophone and Indigenous writers is as essential as the presence of youth and women, according to Jarvis.

Out of the invited writers, three are French and another three are Indigenous — from either Métis, Cree or Dene backgrounds.

Event director Sarah Jarvis says the festival's new location will make Bookfest more accessible to young people. (Floriane Bonneville/Radio-Canada)

Saskatchewan-born David Bouchard is both Indigenous and francophone. He will be the first to appear before the public, presiding over a panel the morning of Oct. 17.

The francophone side of the festival is gaining in popularity, with two evening talks and three writing workshops in French offered to the audience.

The two other francophone writers featured are Arlette Cousture and Isabelle Larouche.

Cousture is famous for her novel Les filles de Caleb, a historical novel about a romance in rural francophone Canada. Both writers will also give presentations.

A Franco-Anglo collaboration

The literary festival was also organized with the Windsor-Essex Chatham-Kent ACFO — the Association of French Canadians in Ontario.

According to the ACFO director Gisèle Dionne, communication between the anglophone and francophone sides of the organization had not been great just a few years ago, but "it is getting better," adding the partnership between the two organizations is proof of that.

Bookfest will take place from Oct. 17-21 at the University of Windsor's Armouries building.

About the Author

Floriane Bonneville

Floriane Bonneville is a reporter at CBC/Radio-Canada in Windsor. Email her at floriane.bonneville@radio-canada.ca.

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