Thank You!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported the Yukon Nonfiction Festival. It was a huge success and shows how much interest there is in the territory for real life stories.

Mahsi cho. Merci beaucoup.

Until next year.


Nonfiction Festival Schedule of Events


vendredi 17 novembre
Venez entendre Dre Monia Mazigh qui racontera l’histoire de son combat pour faire rapatrier son mari Maher Arar, déporté et torturé en Syrie en 2002. Une période de questions suivra. Événement en français.

Heure: 17 h 30
Coût : contribution volontaire
Lieu : Arts Underground, 305, rue Main

Saturday November 18

Morning (Note: Limited spaces available)
Critiquing sessions
Publishing veteran Trena White will meet with you individually to discuss your writing. Trena was nonfiction editor at McClelland and Stewart and has edited award-winning books including books by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Paul Watson and CBC’s This Is That.

You can submit nonfiction manuscript excerpts of up to 1,000 words in advance. Submit as soon as possible to
9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, Classroom B, $25 for private 30-minute session
To register, click here

Pitch sessions = SOLD OUT
Jen Gauthier of Greystone Books will listen to your book pitch and give you feedback to make it as strong as possible. She’ll help you identify the selling points of your book and possible publishing prospects for your work.
9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, Artist’s Studio, $20 for private 20-minute session.
To register, click here

Memoir Writing Workshop
In this 3-hour workshop, author Cea Sunrise Person will discuss finding your creative voice, themes and universal truths—what they are and why they sell memoirs—and present tips for strengthening your writing. Geared for people who have a manuscript-in-progress.
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, Artist’s Studio, $25
To register, click here

Public Talk on Islamophobia with Dr. Monia Mazigh
Author and human rights advocate Dr. Monia Mazigh will discuss Islamophobia and Muslim identity at a time where the level of suspicion and misunderstanding of Muslims have reached high levels. Dr. Mazigh rose to prominence in 2002 when she successfully campaigned to free her husband Maher Arar from a Syrian jail. Special presentation hosted by Whitehorse United Church and Yukon Muslims Society.
7 p.m. Whitehorse United Church, 601 Main Street. Free. No ticket purchase necessary.

Sunday November 19

Critique sessions with Trena White. KDCC, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. $25
Pitch sessions with Jen Gauthier. KDCC, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. $20

Inspiration for Social Change: Advocacy Writing with Dr. Monia Mazigh
Get inspired in the fight for social change! Since 2002, Monia Mazigh has been advocating on issues like national security and rights of Muslim Canadians. How to continue the struggle without getting discouraged? What strategies to use to make the government listen? Monia Mazigh will answer these questions to inspire others.
1:30 to 4 p.m. Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, Artist’s Studio, $20. To register, click here

Talk with Cea Sunrise Person = THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT
Join author Cea Sunrise Person as she presents her latest memoir, Nearly Normal. Cea will discuss her unique life spent in the wilderness and later as an international model.
7 p.m. Baked Café, 100 Main Street, $10

How do I register or buy a ticket?
All sales are through the ticketing system You can
1) Click on the specific event link, which is listed in each description above.
2) Go to and search under “Yukon Nonfiction Festival” in the Event category for a list of all workshops and talks.

Introducing the Inaugural Yukon Nonfiction Festival!


Meet the fabulous speakers of the very first Yukon Nonfiction Festival!

On November 18 and 19, these four women will come to Whitehorse to inspire, encourage and celebrate the craft of nonfiction. Two authors, two industry powerhouses in great weekend.

Dr. Monia Mazigh:  Academic, novelist and human rights advocate. Born in Tunisia, she immigrated to Canada in 1991. Dr. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. Dr. Mazigh campaigned vigorously for her husband’s release. In January 2007, her husband finally received an apology from the Canadian government. Dr. Mazigh authored Hope and Despair in 2008 which documents the ordeal and the campaign to clear his name.  She has written two highly regarded novels that explore Muslim issues. She lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children.

Cea Sunrise Person:  Author of two bestselling memoirs, North of Normal and Nearly Normal. Her books chronicle her wilderness childhood and dramatic move into a modeling career at age thirteen. She has made many appearances to speak about her unique life, including a TEDx talk. After living in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Munich and Milan, Cea is now happily settled in Vancouver with her husband and three children.

Trena White: Principal of Page Two, a publishing agency based in Vancouver, and literary agent at Transatlantic Agency. Before launching Page Two, Trena held several other publishing roles, including publisher of Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books, running a publishing program of sixty new books each year; non-fiction editor at McClelland & Stewart; and communications manager of the B.C. & Yukon Community Newspapers Association. She has a master of publishing degree from Simon Fraser University and is now adjunct professor in publishing at the university.

Jen Gauthier: Director of Sales and Marketing, Greystone Books, a Canadian publisher specializing in a wide range of non-fiction books. At Greystone, Jen has overseen the sales and marketing of a number of bestsellers including Letters to My Grandchildren, by David Suzuki; Gut, by Giulia Enders; and The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben. Jen previously worked at D&M Publishers and BookNet Canada, and currently serves on the board of the Association of BC Book Publishers.

First Draft Whitehorse thanks our generous sponsors including Whitehorse United Church, Yukon Muslim Association, Cultural Industries Training Fund, Arts Fund, the Women’s Directorate, Aasman Brand Communications, Westmark Hotels, Baked Cafe and Mac’s Fireweed Books.

The Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2017


Join us January 20 – 22 for the second Northern Lights Writers’ Conference. Great speakers, workshops and evening events in one very short weekend. Our featured presenters are George Elliott Clarke, the Poet Laureate of Parliament, Andrew Westoll, author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, and Nino Ricci’s literary agent Martha Webb.

Workshop registration at Well-Read Books.
Wine-tasting tickets at Corked.
Poetry Cabaret tix available at Dean’s.

Friday January 20, 2017

wineBooks and Bubbly!
A wine-tasting kickoff celebrating local writers and our conference authors. Readings by Jamella Hagen, Kirsten Madsen, Leonard Linklater, Andrew Westoll and George Elliott Clarke.  Jeremie Matrishon of Corked wine store “pairs” each author with a wine. 7:30 pm. Tickets $30. Baked Cafe. Tickets at Corked, next to Baked Cafe in Horwoods Mall.

Saturday January 21, 2017 

Workshops at Yukon College. Register and pay at Well-Read Books. Please bring exact amount. The College cafeteria is closed over the weekend. There will be refreshments but lunch is not provided.

Workshop with George Elliott Clarke: Taking Your Poetry to the Next Level
You will work through ‘catalogues’ and ‘freefall’ to learn how to invigorate your poetry with passionate diction and radical autobiography. You will also discuss and practice some formal poetry, including advice on metre and a welcoming of rhyme. 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. $50.  This advanced level workshop is open to everyone.  Location: Glass Class C1440.

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.
Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

Workshop with Literary Agent Martha Webb:
The Attention-Getting Query
Queries and pitches are the sales tools to get an agent or editor’s attention. Martha will discuss effective query letters and avoiding the common mistakes writers unintentionally make. She will also discuss how to present your work in person.This workshop provides a foundation for the one-on-one pitch sessions. Workshop and Saturday pitches take place in Glass Class C1440.

1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. $25. Pitch session from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. $20 for 15-minute pitch.

Jazz Cabaret with George
A stellar evening! George Elliott Clarke in reading, with music by Sauna Music duo Jordy Walker and Micah Smith. In partnership with Jazz Yukon. jazz
7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Old Fire Hall.

Tickets $25. Tickets at Dean’s. On sale now!

Sunday January 22, 2017
bio-photo-mindy-abramowitzWorkshop with Mindy Abramowitz:
Taxes for Writers
Note: This workshop is presented by Skype
Wonder if there’s a deduction when you donate your books? Can’t figure out what to do with the sales commission from your online sales? Get answers at this informal Q&A with literary industry accountant Mindy Abramowitz appearing via Skype. Location: Glass Class C1440
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. $25. Mindy appears courtesy of Jessica Simon and Friends of the Whitehorse Public Library (FOWL). Register at Well-Read Books or email
Workshop with Andrew Westoll:
Story + Style: A Beginner’s Guide to Creative Nonfiction. 

All good creative nonfiction shares this characteristic: the story being told must be true. This workshop will introduce a framework for thinking about works of creative nonfiction and analyzing why they work or don’t. You will feel more confident about transforming true happenings into true prose and have fun in the process. Participants will get the most out of the workshop if they come with an idea for a nonfiction story.
Andrew, a creative writing professor at the University of Toronto, was named Professor of the Year in 2014.
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. $40. Location: Glass Class C1440. Update: THIS WORKSHOP IS SOLD OUT AS OF JAN. 19. THERE IS NOW A WAITING LIST.


Pitch Sessions with Martha Webb — SOLD OUT!
Pitch your manuscript to one of the top literary agents in the country! In sessions of 15 minutes each, writers get the chance to present their work or get feedback about their query letter.You could even bring a book idea for feedback.
9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Also Saturday 3 to 4:30 p.m. $20. Location of Sunday pitches: C1530

Yukon Science Institute Lecture with Andrew Westoll:
Chimps in Space: A Century of Apes in Research

In 2015, the National Institutes of Health announced that it would retire the last of its laboratory chimpanzees to sanctuary, bringing to an end nearly a century of biomedical research on our closest evolutionary relatives. Join Andrew Westoll as he traces the medical research community’s complicated relationship to the chimpanzee, from early experiments by renowned psychologist Robert Yerkes, to the chimp’s central role in the US Space Race, to the ultimately vain hope that the chimpanzee model might hold the key to reversing the devastation of HIV/AIDS.

7:30 p.m. Beringia Centre. FREE.

Just Who Are These Fabulous Speakers?

George Elliott Clarke is the 7th Poet Laureate of Parliament and one of Canada’s most beloved poets. He pioneered the study of African-Canadian literature. His 2001 collection, Execution Poems, won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and his verse-novel, Whylah Falls, was chosen for the CBC’s inaugural Canada Reads competition in 2002.  He holds eight honorary doctorates and appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and Order of Canada. George currently teaches at the University of Toronto.

Andrew Westoll is the bestselling author of two nonfiction books, The Riverbones and The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, and a novel, The Jungle South of the Mountain, which was published in 2016. The Chimps won the 2012 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction and was a finalist for several other major awards. Andrew teaches Creative Writing and English at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Martha Webb is a literary agent, director and partner at The McDermid Agency in Toronto. Her list focuses on literary fiction, narrative non-fiction and ideas-driven nonfiction. Her clients include Caleb Behn, Nino Ricci, Andrew Westoll, Michael Crummey and Alison Pick. Martha also works with emerging authors and excels at placing debuts with major houses.

Mindy Abramowitz is a member of the Certified General Accountants of BC and has offered bookkeeping and accounting services to literary magazines and writers in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland for over 10 years.

Sauna Music has been creating live improvised music since 2012. With forest fires burning in nearby valleys, Jordy Walker and Micah Smith retreated to Micah’s home with guitars, synths, electro-acoustic percussion, and guitar pedals to create music that escaped a place and reflected it back at them. Sauna Music has has opened for Bry Webb and Chad Van Gaalen and performed live improvised film accompaniment.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Library of Parliament, Cultural Industries Training Fund, Yukon College, Westmark Hotels, Mac’s Fireweed Books, Well-Read Books, Baked Cafe, Corked Fine Wine, Beer and Spirits, Jazz Yukon, Aasman Brand Communications, Yukon Science Institute, Midnight Sun Coffee, Michael Dougherty and Jennifer Mauro.

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