Joan Baxter is a Nova Scotian journalist, development researcher/writer, anthropologist and award-winning aurthor who now divides her time between Canada and Africa. Her 2008 book, Dust From Our Eyes - an unblinkered look at Africa, was shortlisted for the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in the United States, and re-published worldwide by Pambazuka Press / Fahamu Books in 2011. Her 2001 book, A Serious Pair of Shoes: An African Journal, won the Evelyn Richardson Award for non-fiction at the 2001 Atlantic Writing Awards. The late Peter Gzowski included her letters to CBC Morningside in his series of Morningside Letters books, and described Joan's first non-fiction work, Graveyard for Dreamers: One Woman's Odyssey in Africa, as "a magical book". In addition to hundreds of news reports and features for BBC World Service, her short fiction has also been aired on this worldwide radio service in several languages. She has lived and worked in Mexico, Guatemala, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Sierra Leone, and is multi-lingual.
For nearly three decades Joan lived with her family in Africa, reporting for the BBC World Service, CBC Radio and the Associated Press. Her writing has also appeared in Le Monde Diplomatique, Al Jazeera, The Toronto Star, Pambazuka News, The Globe and Mail, and The Chronicle Herald. She also worked as a Senior Science Writer at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2006 and 2007, she served as Executive Director for the international non-governmental organization, the Nova Scotia - Gambia Association, working in The Gambia and Sierra Leone on development education for youth and marginalized groups. While there, she produced two films showing positive images and messages from West Africa. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the international NGO, USC Canada / Seeds of Survival. She is a Senior Research Fellow with the Oakland Institute, and recently researched and authored two in-depth reports on how foreign investors are grabbing up farmland in Mali and Sierra Leone, and putting local farmers, resources and livelihoods at enormous risk.
Over the years she has met, interviewed and profiled a host of African presidents, dignitaries, writers, intellectuals, thinkers and artists, including the late and much-loved President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, the late great Miriam Makeba of South Africa and Ali Farka Toure of Mali, the sensational Malian duo Amadu & Mariam, the late Francis Bebey of Cameroon, and many more. She is a frequent public speaker on African issues and does consulting and voluntary work in development. She specializes in development issues as they relate to social and environmental justice, climate change, human rights, sustainable agriculture, food and seed and land sovereignty.
She currently divides her time between Canada and Africa.