History

Building an NWT Literary Culture

NorthWords NWT was born on a snowy day  in February, 2006 when a group literary enthusiasts visualized a summer literary arts festival in Yellowknife. With a shoestring budget and one sponsor (De Beers Canada), the first festival took place in August, 2006. It was a fabulous success.

The NorthWords Festival Society was incorporated on May 18, 2007 and successful annual festivals, featuring renowned Canadian and northern authors as well as emerging authors, have taken place every year.

In 2008, as more sponsors came on board, we began to expand and offer literary events throughout the year. Among other events, we hosted our first Giller Prize winner in an Evening with Elizabeth Hay that May. In  2009, more funding became available through the GWNT’s Arts Programs and NorthWords really took off. We were able to offer a comprehensive series of workshops/readings in Yellowknife and began to sponsor literary events in other NWT communities as well. The following year, in 2010, we hired a part-time executive director.

Authors we have hosted over the years include Michael Crummey, Bernice Morgan, Joseph Boyden, Jay Ingram, Sharon Butala, Annabel Lyon, Susan Juby, Charlotte Grey, Kathy Reichs and many more.

Today, NorthWords NWT is a major supporter of NWT authors. We are proud to foster the careers of both emerging and established northern writers by offering workshops, mentorships, opportunities to read their work and hosting events where they can share the stage with established Canadian authors. NorthWords is proud to link authors to readers and to contribute to NWT literacy by supporting the development of an NWT Literary Culture.