Conference & AGM

CANCELLATION NOTICE: As we continue to monitor the developments of COVID-19, your health and safety remain our priority. Given the constantly changing and developing situation, we are cancelling OnWords. We anticipate that the in-person AGM will be replaced by a remote online AGM. We will provide further details to members as they are confirmed. Anyone who has already registered and paid for OnWords will receive a full refund as soon as possible. Please understand that given the current circumstances this may take a few weeks.

Connect & Collaborate
AGM & OnWords: May 28–30, 2020
New Residence Hall, 3625 Park Ave, Montreal

Montreal is a city unlike any other — historic, vibrant, and undeniably dynamic. It’s no wonder award-winning writers and emerging creators alike are drawn here. What better place to dig into the craft and business of writing this spring?

Join The Writers’ Union of Canada and League of Canadian Poets for Connect & Collaborate, a weekend of workshops, panel discussions, and literary networking. This year’s conference features even more opportunities to discuss business and craft, meet with industry professionals, and connect with fellow writers. Don’t miss out — register now to guarantee your spot!

TWUC and LCP members are encouraged to attend their organization’s Annual General Meeting on Friday, May 29. Scroll down for more details about the AGMs.


Register now to guarantee your spot at Connect & Collaborate. Members of The Writers’ Union of Canada, League of Canadian Poets, Quebec Writers’ Federation, and Editors Canada register for the discounted price of $245. Non-members register for $275.

Please note:

  • Registration deadline: April 24, 2020. Advance registration is required; there is no onsite registration.
  • Cancellations before May 4, 2020, may be subject to a $25 administrative fee. No refunds available after May 4, 2020.
  • Connect & Collaborate registration includes access to programming on May 30. Conference events on May 28 and May 29 are free and open to the public.

The AGM is free to attend. Members of the Union or League attending the AGM only (not registering for the conference) must let us know they are coming by April 24, 2020.

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Connect & Collaborate
Conference Program

Events take place at New Residence Hall (3625 Park Ave) unless otherwise noted. 

> Thursday, May 28

Anne Szumigalski Lecture: Louise Bernice Halfe
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Reception to follow.

Each year, the League of Canadian Poets invites a distinguished Canadian poet to deliver the Anne Szumigalski Lecture. Award-winning poet Louise Bernice Halfe will deliver the lecture in Montreal.

This event is free and open to the public.

Photo of Louise Bernice Halfe

> Friday, May 29

For details about the AGMs on Friday, May 29, scroll down or jump to that section.

Margaret Laurence Lecture: Lee Maracle
7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Reception to follow.
Moyse Hall Theatre, McGill University

Each year since 1987, Canada’s most prominent authors have shared insights into their work on the profession of writing in a lecture on the topic of “A Writer’s Life.” Lee Maracle, one of Canada’s most prolific writers, will deliver the 34th annual Margaret Laurence Lecture in Montreal.

This event is free and open to the public.

Photo of Lee Maracle

> Saturday, May 30

Morning Mixer
9:00 – 9:45 a.m.

Connect with your writing colleagues and browse the Book Table over light refreshments. 

Speed Networking
Session 1: 9:15 – 10:30 a.m. / Session 2: 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. / Session 3: 3:00 – 4:15 p.m.

Speed Networking is your chance to meet one-on-one with an industry professional. Remember, these are quick-fire informational interviews (not pitch sessions) so come prepared with your best questions! Speed Networkers include:

  • Stephanie Azoulay, Literature Program Officer, Explore and Create, Canada Council for the Arts
  • Carolyn Forde, Senior Agent, Transatlantic Agency
  • Whitney French, Acquisitions Editor, Dundurn Press
  • Leila Marshy, Associate Publisher, Linda Leith Publishing
  • Greg Santos, Editor-in-Chief, carte blanche
  • Jason Saulay, Affinity Programs and Business Development, AFBS (Writers’ Coalition Program)

Photo of Speed Networkers
Photo of Greg Santos: Mollye Miller

What Readers Want
9:45 – 10:30 a.m.

It’s not always easy to reach readers, as many writers have discovered. As we work on a manuscript and consider our potential readership, we may ask ourselves what readers want. One difficulty is that there are almost as many answers to the question as there are readers. Linda Leith proposes a different approach to the relationship between readers and writers.

Presented by Linda Leith, President of Linda Leith Publishing

Photo of Linda Leith

Children’s Writing as a Collaborative Practice
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Marie-Louise Gay is an internationally acclaimed author and illustrator. David Homel is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, journalist, and translator. Together, they created the Travels with my Family series of books based on their real-life family adventures with their two children. Join Marie-Louise and David in conversation with picture-book author and playwright Bonnie Farmer for a discussion about creative processes, collaborative versus independent writing, and more. 

With Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel. Moderated by Bonnie Farmer.

Photos of Marie-Louise Gay, David Homel, and Bonnie Farmer.
Photo of David Homel: Marina Vulicevic

Authors Online: How to Manage Your Digital Presence
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Authors are expected to have a robust digital presence. But between running social media accounts, a website, and a newsletter, how much time is left to actually write? Author and online communications specialist Mia Herrera provides a primer on the many digital tools available to writers and helps you understand which tools are best for you.

Presented by Mia Herrera

Photo of Mia Herrera

LCP Feminist Caucus Panel
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The League’s Feminist Caucus was established to address the disparity of representation of Canadian women in poetry in the 1970s. The 2020 Feminist Caucus panel will examine the history of the Caucus, the history of racism and exclusionary behaviour in Canadian poetry, and the new directions that the League and Feminist Caucus will be taking to encourage equity, diversity, and inclusion within the League of Canadian Poets. 

With Shazia Hafiz Ramji

Shazia Hafiz Ramji

Dayne Ogilvie Prize Presentation
12:00 – 1:00 p.m., Gallery Gora

Celebrate the announcement of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers just down the street from the conference venue at Gallery Gora (279 Sherbrooke St W). This prize is presented to an emerging Canadian writer from the LGBTQ community who demonstrates great promise in the early stages of their career through a body of work of exceptional quality. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public.

Presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada

Readings Info Session
12:05 – 12:45 p.m.

Questions about readings? Join us for a review of TWUC’s and LCP’s readings programs. Valerie Laws will provide an overview of the Union’s National Public Readings and Ontario Writers-in-the-Schools programs. Nicole Brewer will provide an overview of the League's Canada Poetry Tours and National Poetry Month Program. 

The Future of Writers’ Rights
1:30 – 2:45 p.m.

As we enter a new decade, join us for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities for writers’ rights.

Mastering the Art of Book Research
1:30 – 2:45 p.m.

Diving into research for your next book can be a daunting prospect. Join Taras Grescoe, award-winning author of seven nonfiction books, for a seminar covering best practices and common challenges. Using case studies from his own work, Taras guides attendees through successful research strategies for a range of nonfiction styles.

Presented by Taras Grescoe

Photo of Taras Grescoe

How to Make a Living and Life Through Poetry 
1:30 – 2:45 p.m.

Poetry calls us or we go chasing it. Being a poet has become a part of how we see ourselves. How do we negotiate this existence with the joy of words and language wrapping our hearts as we attempt to make a life and a living in this complex and sometimes inhospitable world. Join Lillian Allen for a session on how to navigate the practical and philosophical challenges that come with a career in poetry.

Presented by Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen

First Page Challenge
3:00 – 4:15 p.m.

Back by popular demand! Hear from a panel of judges as they share their on-the-spot expertise reviewing first pages of submitted manuscripts. Participants submit the first page of a fiction or nonfiction piece. Submissions are read aloud, and the judges share their impressions of strengths and weaknesses. This is your risk-free chance to why editors put down manuscripts and why they read on, what agents look for in a potential client’s work, and what creative instructors really like.

Click here to submit your first page. Deadline to submit: April 30, 2020. All submissions are anonymous — if your work is evaluated during the session, you will not be identified.

With Stephanie BolsterCarolyn Forde, and Whitney French. Moderated by Peter Dubé.

Stephanie Bolster, Carolyn Forde, and Whitney French

Mental Wellness for Writers
3:00 – 4:15 p.m.

When it comes to mental wellness, the writing life presents a unique set of challenges — from writer’s block and rejection letters to self-promotion and building a public persona. Discover strategies to keep you feeling balanced and on track, and get helpful tips for general self-care. Farzana Doctor brings over 15 years’ experience as a working writer and psychotherapist to lead this discussion.

Presented by Farzana Doctor

Sponsored by Dundurn Press

Photo of Farzana Doctor

Spontaneous Poetry Writing
3:00 – 4:15 p.m.

Learn the craft of turning another person’s words into a poem to be treasured. Join Kate Marshall Flaherty for a workshop that teaches you how to turn short stories, phrases, and tidbits into a beautiful poem. Spontaneous poetry writing is a wonderful practical skill for any writer. This workshop will teach you to ask open-ended questions that that prompt stories and images that can be fashioned into a personal poem. Attendees will also learn practical tips and tricks about where and how they can set up their own spontaneous-poetry events.

Presented by Kate Marshall Flaherty

Heather O’Neill in Conversation with Arizona O’Neill
4:30 – 5:15 p.m.

Heather O’Neill is a novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Her work, which includes Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, Daydreams of Angels, and The Lonely Hearts Hotel, has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize in two consecutive years, and has won CBC Canada Reads, the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. She is the latest recipient of the Writers’ Trust Fellowship.

Explore the influences that shape Heather’s writing — the city of Montreal, an expansive reading list, her own fictional characters — in this wide-ranging conversation with filmmaker, artist, and Heather’s daughter, Arizona O’Neill

Photo of Heather O'Neill: J. Artacho

Photos of Heather O'Neill and Arizona O'Neill

TWUC Soirée
5:15 – 7:00 p.m.

After a long day of honing your craft and business skills, it’s time to celebrate at this reception for all Connect & Collaborate attendees. Join us for drinks, nibbles, and music, plus the announcement of the winners of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers.

Want to bring a guest? Purchase an additional ticket for the TWUC Soirée when you register.

LCP New Member Reading & Open Mic
6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Wrap up the day with readings from the League’s new members and an open mic.

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Annual General Meetings

> Friday, May 29

TWUC Plenary Sessions
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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?”

These sessions are open to TWUC members.

If you are attending the Plenary Sessions, please note the March 30 deadline in the Notice of Motions.

Also on this day: 

  • Regional Meetings 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 
  • Children's Writers Meeting 1:15 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Minority Language Writers Meeting 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. (For members who write in a language other than English, French, or an Indigenous language, this discussion will cover challenges and opportunities you encounter regarding translation of your work into Canada's official languages, obtaining grants, getting your work published, and more.)

LCP Feminist Caucus Business Meeting
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

This session is open to LCP members.

LCP Awards Presentation
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Followed by LCP social hour.

Take a break from business to celebrate poetry at this midday reception. The League of Canadian Poets will announce the winners of three book awards for poets at various stages in their career, as well as a spoken word lifetime achievement award and a young poets’ prize. LCP and TWUC members participating in the AGMs are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

LCP Annual General Meeting
3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

This session is open to LCP members. 

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A block of rooms has been reserved at New Residence Hall for AGM and conference attendees. Standard rates begin at $129/night. Book by April 11 to access the block booking. To reserve:

  1. Contact New Residence Hall at 514-398-5433 or (online booking is not available).
  2. Quote “The Writers’ Union of Canada” to access the block booking. (LCP members are also included in this block.)

Click here for more information about New Residence Hall.

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Book Table

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

The Book Table will operate:

  • Friday, May 29, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 30, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Learn more about the Book Table.

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Reimbursement for TWUC Members

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

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.

Reminder: Members wishing to use the AGM Travel Reimbursement Fund must attend the AGM. Reimbursement forms will be distributed at the AGM plenary meetings.

Learn more about the AGM Travel Reimbursement Fund.  

Reimbursement for Person-Care

There is reimbursement for person-care for up to $100 per person, for TWUC members attending the Annual General Meeting with a receipt from a care worker.

Learn more about reimbursement for person-care.

AGM Waiver Lottery

For TWUC 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 the OnWords conference, which takes place the day after 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

Deadline to apply to the AGM Waiver Lottery: March 24, 2020.

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All AGM and conference venues are wheelchair accessible (including New Residence Hall, Moyse Hall Theatre, and Gallery Gora). Click here for detailed accessibility information.

If you have any accessibility requirements, please let us know on your registration form. If you have questions or concerns about accessibility, please contact the Union’s Office Administrator Valerie Laws at or 416-703-8982 x 224.

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The Writers’ Union of Canada would like to thank the companies and organizations whose generous support helps us provide writers with vital opportunities to learn from industry leaders, develop professional skills, and — most importantly — connect with one another. If you are interested in supporting Connect & Collaborate in Montreal, please contact Gaeby Abrahams at or 416-703-8982 x 223.

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See you in Montreal!