OnWords 2017 & AGM

Registration has now closed for OnWords 2017. Read on to learn more about this year’s event. 

Writers from across the country will gather in beautiful downtown Vancouver at Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre for a stimulating and productive weekend centred on the theme Writing the World Now. There will be plenty of opportunities to connect and exchange ideas with your fellow writers, meet with industry professionals, develop your skills, and have a good time.


Registration deadline: April 28, 2017.

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OnWords 2017 Events

Thursday, June 1

  • Rookie Reception
    Never attended OnWords before and afraid that everyone in the room knows everybody else except you? Not to worry: There’s a special welcome committee to say hi, fill you in on what to expect, and introduce you to your fellow first time attendees at this early evening event.
    Sponsored by Amazon.ca

  • Writing the World Now
    OnWords kicks off on Thursday evening with a roundtable discussion. Join Jen Sookfong Lee, Sylvia McNicoll, Carol Shaben, and moderator Waubgeshig Rice as they explore what “Writing the World Now” means. Reception with cash bar to follow.

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Friday, June 2

  • Reading: State of the Art and Current Trends
    Christina de Castell, Director of Collections & Technology at the Vancouver Public Library, starts the day off with a keynote talk on the latest news in what – and how – readers are reading. 

  • The Business of Writing: Taxes and the Professional Writer
    Join Brian Borts, CPA, CA, specialist in tax services for the arts and entertainment industry, for this discussion on best practices, maximizing deductions, whether to incorporate, and more.
    Sponsored by Actra Fraternal Benefits Society (AFBS).

  • Reclaiming our Copyrights
    Take a hands-on approach to discussing current copyright challenges faced by writers and exploring ways to enact change with panelists John Degen, Michael Elcock, and Martha Rans. Moderated by Kevin Chong.

  • borderblur and Beyond: Genre and its Transformations
    Explore the crumbling boundaries between genres and the opportunities/challenges this presents for writers with panelists Leanne Dunic, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, and Betsy Warland. Moderated by Hal Wake.
    Sponsored by FriesenPress

  • To Write is to Resist, To Write is to ReCreate
    Join this discussion of how writers can challenge contemporary power structures in a literature of denunciation and hope with Wayde Compton, Wanda John-Kehewin, and Rita Wong. Moderated by Carmen Rodriguez.

  • In It for the Long Haul
    Being a writer shouldn’t hurt. Learn some best practices toward bringing breath and mindfulness to your writing practice, body-awareness, and improving and maintaining strength and flexibility over time in this participatory session. This fully accessibly session is suitable for writers of all ages and abilities. Led by Elizabeth Bachinsky and Jenn Farrell.
    Sponsored by Access Copyright

  • Toward an Equitable Union
    Contribute to the discussion about equity within TWUC led by equity consultant Charles Smith. Open to TWUC members only. This session will be offered twice – members are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two sessions.

  • Midday Q&A: Setting the Record Straight on PLR
    This interactive session offers a chance to discuss the nuts and bolts of PLR. Led by Genni Gunn (Vice-Chair, PLR Commission) and Peter Schneider (Manager, PLR Program).

  • Midday Brainstorming Session: Translation Ways & Means
    First generation immigrant writers are living repositories of rich cultural heritages, including their mother tongues. However, most often, a lack of resources means that their work remains in their mother tongue. In this working session, participants will exchange experiences of translation and self-translations and explore strategies on how to ensure that appropriate resources are allocated so that their work can be made available in Canada’s official languages. Facilitated by Sadhu Binning and Carmen Rodriguez.

  • Margaret Laurence Memorial Lecture presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada
    Since 1987 Canada’s most prominent authors have shared their insights into their work and the profession of writing. John Metcalf, award-winning author and Member of the Order of Canada delivers the 32nd annual lecture.

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Saturday, June 3

  • Speed Networking
    Get to the registration table early to sign up for a one-on-one 15-minute information interview with one of our industry insiders. This isn’t your chance to hire an editor, pitch your book to a publisher, or apply for funding: It’s your chance to get the information that will help you seal the deal when you do. Speed Networkers include agent Carolyn Swayze and publicist Margaret MacKinnon-Cash. More industry professionals to be announced. 

  • Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers
    The Writers' Trust of Canada invites you to celebrate the announcement of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers. This prize is presented to an emerging Canadian writer from the LGBTQ community who demonstrates great promise through a body of work of exceptional quality. This is a free event open to the public.  
  • Dinner and Dancing
    After the long days of honing your working skills, listening to speakers, and debating the issues, its time to relax at the Saturday evening dinner and dance. It’s just steps away at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 W Hastings St. Open to TWUC members and guests only.
    Sponsored by ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society

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AGM Events

AGM Events are open to TWUC members only.

Saturday, June 3

  • Plenary Sessions
    Help shape the direction of the Union for the coming year. This is the day for motions, minutes, discussion, and debate. Business doesn’t mean boring in these sessions. One member told us, “The business meeting blew me away — who knew such a thing could be so open, honest, serious, articulate, and even entertaining?” If you are attending the Plenary Sessions, please note the April 1 deadline in the
    Notice of Motions.

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Sunday, June 4

  • Plenary Session
    The AGM wraps up with the Sunday morning Plenary Session. Members vote on final motions and the Chair position passes from George Fetherling to Marjorie Doyle.

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Draft Agenda

For a detailed outline of the weekend, including OnWords and AGM events, consult the draft agenda:


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Book Table

The volunteer-run member Book Table is getting more popular every year. This is your chance to show off your latest books and check out the work of your fellow members. 


The Book Table operates on Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3.

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Accessibility Information

Please consult the accessibility guide for resources regarding accessibility at OnWords 2017 and the AGM. The guide includes information about venue locations and accessibility, as well as accessible transit options within Vancouver and BC.


If you have further questions or concerns about accessibility, please contact us by email at info@writersunion.ca or phone at 416-703-8982.

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A block of rooms is reserved at the Delta Vancouver Suites for OnWords and AGM attendees at the discount rate of $185 per night. Click the button below to make your reservation at the discount rate. 

Rooms are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. We encourage you to make your accommodation plans as soon as possible. Please note we have sold out early in other years – rates and availability are not guaranteed once the block booking is full.

Use the button below to book online or call 1-844-254-5048 and ask for The Writers' Union of Canada rate. Deadline to book at the discount rate: April 28, 2017.


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Ways to Save

The Writers’ Union of Canada encourages members to attend the AGM each year but we recognize that finances can provide a barrier to attendance. There are a few measures in place to assist in making attendance more affordable.

Plenary Sessions

The Plenary Sessions of the Annual General Meeting are free and open to all members.

AGM Travel Reimbursement Fund

For those members who must travel to attend the AGM there is an AGM Travel Reimbursement Fund. Funds are set aside to assist members with travel costs to the AGM. Members must pay the first $150 of their travel. They are then reimbursed a percentage of the rest of their eligible expenses. The percentage reimbursed depends on the number of people who apply to the pool and the total amount spent. Forms for the AGM Travel Reimbursement Fund will be distributed at the AGM plenary meetings.


Reimbursement for Person-Care

There is reimbursement for person-care for up to $100 per person or couple, for members attending the annual general meetings with a receipt from a care worker.



Each year, staff recruits a member volunteer to coordinate billeting arrangements in the city of the AGM. This year’s Billeting Coordinator is Caitlin Hicks.

If you are a friendly writer in Vancouver who can open your home to a fellow writer, or a friendly writer from outside Vancouver who would like to stay with a friendly writer in Vancouver, fill out the Billet Form. The Billeting Coordinator will put you in touch with one another. After that, it’s up to you to work out the details.

The Billeting Coordinator will try as far as possible to find an appropriate billet for every member requesting one but cannot guarantee that each billet arrangement will be a match made in heaven. We’ve set an early deadline so if a billet can’t be found there will still be time to make other arrangements. Deadline to return the Billet Form: March 30, 2017.


AGM Waiver Lottery

For members who could not otherwise afford to attend the AGM, there is an annual lottery for one member from each region to win accommodation and registration for OnWords, which takes place immediately prior to the Annual General Meeting. Winners pay their own travel expenses but can apply to the AGM Travel Reimbursement Fund described above. You can only receive the AGM Waiver Lottery once. Any members wishing to put their name into the AGM Waiver Lottery can apply in confidence to Valerie Laws at info@writersunion.ca.

Deadline to apply to the AGM Waiver Lottery: March 23, 2017

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Ready to Register

You must register in advance to attend OnWords 2017. There is no onsite registration and banquet tickets are not available at the door. Registration deadline: April 28, 2017.






The Writers' Union gratefully acknowledges financial support provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts. We are grateful for the ongoing support of the Ontario Arts Council. We are also extremely grateful to all of our sponsors and donors for their continued support of TWUC programs and services, including OnWords 2017.