The Whistler Writing Society was founded in 2001, became a non-profit organization in 2005, and a charitable organization in 2016. Our group includes over 150 members living in the Sea to Sky Corridor. From its inception the group has promoted the literary arts, provided a forum for local writers to develop their craft within the community, and sponsored literary events for readers and writers in the Sea to Sky corridor. A small group of volunteers within The Whistler Writing Society started the Whistler Writers Festival in 2002, and have delivered this and other literary programming in the corridor over the past two decades. The festival showcases local, regional and internationally known Canadian writers. It allows us to meet the group’s mandate of promoting the literary arts in Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor by:
- Exposing our community (readers and writers alike) to some of today’s best known as well as emerging Canadian authors, and,
- Being a catalyst for up-and-coming local writers to develop their craft, market-orient their work, and connect with other Canadian writers for inspiration, encouragement, and professional development right here within our community.
We achieve our mission by hosting literary events:
This is an annual event in Whistler, which TWWS started in 2002. It is a multi-venue, multi-artist, multi-day event. It involves over half of WWS’ volunteer and financial resources.
- Attendance: We welcome 1500+ guests every year.
- The program includes a masterclass workshop series for new and emerging writers on various topics of craft (e.g.: fiction, non-fiction, children’s & YA and more), reading events and panel discussions for the general public, and a Literary Cabaret combining music and readings. There is also workshop and readings geared to writers who are under 18, in partnership with the Whistler Public Library.
Since 2002, TWWS has hosted 100s of Canadian authors, who have performed, read or instructed in Whistler, including: Caroline Adderson, James Barber, Maude Barlow, Paulette Bourgeois, Joseph Boyden, E.R. Brown, John Burnside, Kevin Chong, Ivan E. Coyote, Charles Demers, William Deverell, Cherie Dimaline, Emma Donoghue, Patrick deWitt, Candas Jane Dorsey, Deborah Ellis, Katherine Fawcett, Charles Foran, Mark Forsythe, Damon Galgut, Stephen Galloway, Zsuzsi Gartner, Bill Gaston, Sue Goyette, Wayne Grady, Bruce Grierson, Genni Gunn, Ian Hamilton, Jennica Harper, Lee Henderson, Lawrence Hill, Miranda Hill, Mel Hurtig, Howard Johnson, Wayne Johnston, Susan Juby, Brian Kaufman, Thomas King, Arno Kopecky, Vincent Lam, Grant Lawrence, Sara Leach, Nancy Lee, Jen Sook Fong Lee, Janet Love Morrison, Annabel Lyon, Elizabeth Lyon, Carrie Mac, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Mary MacDonald, Alistair Macleod, Emily St. John Mandel, Margaret Macpherson, Lee Maracle, Lisa Moore, Kim Moritsugu, Claire Mulligan, Susan Musgrave, Sue Oakey Baker, Kit Pearson, Roberta Rich, Bill Richardson, Eden Robinson, Laisha Rosnau, Andreas Schroeder, Jane Silcott, Merilyn Simonds, Michael V. Smith, Madeline Sonik, Robin Spano, Mary Swan, Ania Szado, Tanya Talaga, Timothy Taylor, Madeleine Thien, Audrey Thomas, Meg Tilley, Michael Tippert, Miriam Toews, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, Richard Wagamese, Jack Whyte and Michael Winter.
Authors are hosted either as part of the Whistler Writers Festival, workshops, the writer in residence program, or in other contexts.
Organized and produced the annual writer-in-residence program since 2007: Paulette Bourgeois (2007), Candas Jane Dorsey (2008), Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady (2009), Brian Brett (2010), Sarah Selecky (2011), Fred Stenson (2012), Ania Szado (2013), Genni Gunn (2014), Michael Winter (2015), Susan Juby (2016), Caroline Adderson (2017), Claudia Casper (2018), Cornelia Hoogland (2019) and Joseph Boyden (2021).
- Organized and produced Authors in the Schools events for Sea to Sky elementary and high schools with Richard Wagamese (2013); Joseph Boyden, Katherina Vermette, Sue Oakey-Baker & Sara Leach (2014); Eric Walters, Stella Harvey, Katherine Fawcett, Patti Laboucane-Benson and Kelly Mellings (2015); Lisa Moore, Kenneth Oppel and Richard Van Camp (2016); Cary Fagan, Drew Hayden-Taylor and Susin Nielsen (2017); Penny Draper, Darren Groth, Simon Groth and Eden Robinson (2018); Cherie Dimaline, Deborah Ellis, Kit Pearson and Richard Van Camp (2019); Tanya Boteju, Zalika Reid-Benta and David Robertson (2020); and Rebecca Wood Barrett, Xiran Jay Zhao and Tanya Talaga (2021).
- The inaugural event involving the late Richard Wagamese included grade 12 English classes studying his novel Indian Horse, followed by a session with Mr. Wagamese and the four area schools at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre where students heard him speak, read and answer their questions. As a result of the program, Xet’olacw Community School students have since organized a book club for youth in their community focused on reading books by Indigenous authors.
- Produced a multi-disciplinary stage presentation in conjunction with the Whistler Museum, including writers, actors and musicians. This was to commemorate the centenary of the community of Alta Lake, which later became Whistler. It was staged in August 2011, and over 110 people attended.
- Hosted creative writing workshops in conjunction with Sea to Sky Corridor libraries.
- Organized and produced the Literary Leanings Reading series in 2002, which has evolved into the Spring Reading Series, and innovative public art installations such as the Collective Novel Experiment.
- Supported First Nations writers, through scholarships and mentorship, since 2007.
- Created an IBPoC scholarship in 2021 for recipients to attend the festival or Writer in Residence program.
- Assisted writers in forming critique groups in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.
These have included: Access Copyright Foundation, AELAQ Roadmap, American Friends of Whistler, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Arts Now (Catalyst) funding, Arts Whistler, BC Arts Council (Community Festival Grant Program, Innovations Grant, Capacity and Sustainability, Professional Festivals, Youth Engagement Program), Canada Council for the Arts (Professional Festivals Project, Public Outreach Travel, Composite Grant, Writer in Residence Program grant), Cultural Capitals of Canada program, League of Canadian Poets, Province of BC (Community Gaming Grant), Real Estate Association of Whistler, Resort Municipality of Whistler Community Enrichment Program, Rotary Club Whistler Millennium, RMI Funding, TELUS, The Writers Union of Canada Reading Events program, the Vancouver Foundation, Whistler Blackcomb Epic Promise, Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and Whistler Community Foundation.
STAFF and BOARD
Current Board of Directors:
- Sara Leach, Chairperson
- Mary MacDonald
- Libby McKeever
- Sue Oakey
- Katherine Fawcett
- Kate Heskett
- Donna Savage
- Rebecca Wood Barrett, Artistic & Executive Director
- Tatiana Lee, Program Coordinator
- Ruth Barrow, Web & Graphic Design
- Alli Vail, PR & Marketing Coordinator
- Tim Smith, Technical Director
The Whistler Writing Society welcomes everyone to our events, where our goal is to make participants feel safe, included, and accepted.
Accessibility is an essential element of our community, and all festival venues are accessible for those using mobility aids. Courtesy seating is available for anyone with mobility challenges, physical disabilities or chronic pain.
On request, we will provide options for accessibility for those with hearing impairment.
Hybrid events with a livestream component offer captions for the Deaf or hard of hearing.
We kindly request refraining from using heavily scented perfumes and products as a courtesy to fellow patrons.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Whistler Writing Society seeks to host a welcoming, barrier-free, culturally respectful and inclusive environment for everyone to engage in the literary arts.
Our values prioritize safety, diversity, inclusion, acceptance and accessibility as essential components of our community.
We are committed to preventing and/or stopping any psychological and sexual harassment within the organization, including any form of discriminatory harassment.
This policy applies to all organizational personnel at all levels, including contractors who deliver The Whistler Writing Society’s activities.