Past Programming

The Rita Joe Indigenous Writers’ Retreat (January 21 to January 27, 2024) aimed to amplify the voices of Mi’kmaw and other Indigenous writers and storytellers. Eligible writers working in poetry and/or short fiction with at least 3 years’ experience writing / storytelling and sharing their work with others were welcome to apply.

Two participants were provided with the instruction, mentorship, and advice of a distinguished author, including

  • one week of free residence at Jampolis Cottage in Avonport, NS, including plenty of unstructured time to focus on writing and to connect with fellow writers and storytellers;
  • an honorarium of $250;
  • four group workshop sessions led by the retreat mentor & guest mentor;
  • and two one-on-one feedback and advisory sessions with the retreat mentor & guest mentor.

A catered dinner on the first evening encouraged the retreat mentor and participants to engage and get to know one another. A fully-stocked pantry, fridge, and kitchen ensured that retreat participants had the freedom to make meals either together or for themselves.

The Rita Joe Indigenous Writers’ Retreat mentor was shalan joudry, a Mi’kmaw poet and oral storyteller. shalan is the author of two books of poetry, Generations Re-merging (Gaspereau Press, 2014) and Waking Ground (Gaspereau Press, 2020), as well as the play Elapultiek (Pottersfield Press, 2019). Waking Ground was nominated for multiple literary awards. Using her theatrical background, shalan has been bringing Mi’kmaw and personal stories to a new generation of listeners for over two decades. Her most recent play, KOQM, won the 2023 Nova Scotia Merritt Theatre Award for Best New Play. She lives in her home territory of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia) with her family in their community of L’sətkuk (Bear River First Nation).

On two days of the retreat, shalan was joined by guest mentor Amanda Peters, Mi’kmaw/Settler author of The Berry Pickers (HarperCollins, 2023).

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is grateful to AfterWords Literary Festival for their partnership in realizing this retreat and to the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage for its investments in celebrating Rita Joe, 2023 honoree of Nova Scotia Heritage Day.

The Tides Retreat (October 29 to November 2, 2023) was open to permanent residents of Nova Scotia who were 60 years of age or older and who identified as women and/or as other marginalized genders (including but not limited to Two-Spirit, trans, nonbinary, and fluid genders). Eligible writers at all experience levels were welcome to register, with those working in nonfiction and poetry particularly encouraged.

Four participants were provided with the instruction, mentorship, and advice of a distinguished author, including

  • five days of overnight residence (for a fee of $509) or day use (for a fee of $329) at Jampolis Cottage in Avonport, NS, including plenty of unstructured time to focus on writing and to connect with fellow writers;
  • four group workshop sessions led by the retreat mentor;
  • and a one-on-one feedback and advisory session with the retreat mentor.

A catered dinner on the first evening encouraged the retreat mentor and participants to engage and get to know one another. A fully-stocked and -equipped pantry, fridge, and kitchen ensured that retreat participants had the freedom to make lunches and snacks for themselves.

The Tides Retreat mentor was Lorri Neilsen Glenn, the author and editor of fourteen books of poetry, essays, and scholarly work. Her recent title, Following the River: Traces of Red River Women (Wolsak and Wynn), is a blend of creative nonfiction, archival material, and poetry. Lorri’s award-winning essays and poems appear in recent anthologies including Gush, Waiting, Love Me True, Nova Scotia Book of Fathers, and In this Together: Ten Stories of Reconciliation, among others. Former Halifax Poet Laureate, Lorri is Professor Emerita at Mount Saint Vincent University and a mentor in the University of King’s College MFA program in creative nonfiction. Lorri’s memoir-in-pieces is forthcoming with Nimbus publishing in the spring of 2024.

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is grateful to the anonymous supporter whose generous donation in memory of Budge Wilson was essential in realizing the Tides Retreat.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that participants in any given workshop have similar levels of creative writing and / or publication experience. This ensures that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their career stage. The “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions used by WFNS.

  • New writers: those with less than two years’ creative writing experience and/or no short-form publications (e.g., short stories, personal essays, or poems in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with more than two years’ creative writing experience and/or numerous short-form publications.
  • Early-career authors: those with 1 or 2 book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short-form publications.
  • Established authors: those with 3 or 4 book-length publications.
  • Professional authors: those with 5 or more book-length publications.

Please keep in mind that each form of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for children and young adults) provides you with a unique set of experiences and skills, so you might consider yourself an ‘established author’ in one form but a ‘new writer’ in another.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed closely.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca