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Dr. Emma S. Norman serves as the Department Chair of the Native Environmental Science program at Northwest Indian College, where she has been on faculty since 2002. Her writing and teaching engage with critical geographies of space, specifically decolonizing borderlands and Indigenous water governance. She is the author of Governing Transboundary Water: Canada, the United States and Indigenous communities, which won the Julian Minghi award for best book in Political Geography in 2015. In her position, Emma works alongside and with Indigenous communities to protect sacred waterways, uphold treaty trust responsibilities and open up space for multiple ways of knowing.

Emma Norman Headshot

Aimée Craft is an Associate Professor at the Faculty Law, University of Ottawa and an Indigenous (Anishinaabe-Métis) lawyer from Manitoba. Craft is an internationally recognized leader in the area of Indigenous laws, treaties and water. She prioritizes Indigenous-lead and interdisciplinary research, including visual arts and film, co-leads a series of major research grants on Decolonizing Water Governance and works with many Indigenous nations and communities on Indigenous relationships with and responsibilities to nibi (water). In 2021 she was awarded the prestigious Canadian Bar Association President’s Award and was named the Early Career Researcher of the Year Award at the University of Ottawa. Treaty Words, her critically acclaimed children’s book, explains treaty philosophy and relationships.

Aimée Craft headshot

Linda Spalding, Kansas-born Canadian fiction and nonfiction writer, is the author, most recently, of A Reckoning, a novel published by Pantheon in March, 2018. Spalding’s novel The Purchase, published by Pantheon in 2013, won the Governor General’s prize in Canada. Spalding’s earlier novels include The Paper Wife (1996) Daughters of Captain Cook (1989) and Mere (2001) as well as the nonfiction books A Dark Place in the Jungle (1998), which was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award and the Pearson Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, and Who Named the Knife, which was also a television movie.

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Amanda Halfpenny is the Events and Program Coordinator for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. She graduated with a BA in Literature from Université Laval and then launched her career at La Maison Anglaise et Internationale, a small but mighty independent bookstore in Quebec City. She then completed her Masters in Library and Information Studies at McGill University and has worked in both official languages in public and school libraries and as a professor at the School of English and Liberal Studies at Seneca College. She is also married to a librarian and is a parent to two adorable book-loving children.

Amanda Halfpenny Headshot

Miles Baker is the executive director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, the world’s greatest celebration of cartoonists and the comics they create. Miles started his career in publishing at a business-to-business magazine publisher, Actual Media, following a post-graduate certificate in Publishing from Centennial College. In addition to his work on the festival, he is one of the founders of TCAF’s festival shop, Page & Panel, located in Toronto Reference Library.

Miles Baker HeadshotPénélope Jolicoeur Headshot

Whitney French is a writer, multidisciplinary artist and publisher. She edited the anthology Black Writers Matter a collection of creative nonfiction, the winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Publishing 2020. Having worked as both a developmental and acquisitions editor, French is now the cofounder and publisher of Hush Harbour, the only Black queer feminist press in Canada. Whitney French is a certified arts-educator. Currently, she lives in Toronto.

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Dr. Kaitlin Schwan is Director of Research for The Shift, an international movement to secure the right to housing. She is a Senior Researcher at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and teaches social policy at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, where she is appointed Assistant Professor, Status Only. She also co-leads the Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network. Kaitlin’s research focuses on homelessness prevention and human rights, particularly for women and youth. Kaitlin uses research to build bridges between evidence, advocacy, policy and lived expertise to advance housing justice.

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Join Canadian award-winning poets and activists Kelisha Daley, Martin Gomes, Khiem Hoang, Shahaddah Jack and Zara Rahman for an empowering presentation of the power of performance. In conversation with Desiree Mckenzie, they’ll share the tools you’ll need to create your own poetry and writing, and the necessary techniques to reflect the challenges and change you’d like to inspire in the world around you.

All presenters are mentees of the iAM Programme: a youth-led arts and social justice mentorship for equity-seeking youth in Canada aged 12–26. Desiree Mckenzie is an award-winning performer and arts educator, who in 2019, earned the title of Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Champion.

Recommended for ages 11 and up.

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This event is presented in partnership with the Reading is Magic Festival.

Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) logo         Reading is Magic Festival Logo - "Reading is Magic Festival, 27th September - 3rd October, 2021

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Zara Rahman (she/her) is a spoken word artist, nonprofit founder and community leader. Through written and spoken word poetry, Zara has shared stories with audiences up to 2000 and in more intimate settings. She has been featured on CBC News and the Toronto Star for her community involvement. Zara, founder of the international nonprofit organization, Youth Professionals (@youthprofessionals), created a platform to support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth all over the world through virtual opportunities. Recently, she was named the 2021 CBC News Community Champion award winner. In the future, Zara plans to pursue a career as a human rights attorney and continue writing poems whenever possible.

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