Keynote speaker Cherie Dimaline is a writer, activist, and member of the Georgian Bay Métis Nation in Ontario. Her bestselling speculative novel The Marrow Thieves (2017) won several prizes, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature, the Kirkus Prize for Young Reader's Literature, the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award, and the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Literature. The Marrow Thieves has been translated into several languages, and it still appears in the ranks of national bestsellers. The novel focuses on a young Métis protagonist and his created family in a near-future dystopian Canada; it reimagines Canadian Residential Schools as part of a terrifying future in which Indigenous peoples are hunted so that their dreams can be harvested. The sequel to The Marrow Thieves, Hunting by Stars, will be published this October.
Dimaline's fifth novel, Empire of Wild (2019), was number one in Indigo's Best Books List of 2019. She is currently working on adapting The Marrow Thieves for television and Empire of Wild for the stage.
Featured Speaker Wayde Compton is a Canadian poet, writer, activist, and instructor of Creative Writing at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC. He has conducted historical work on the culture and history of Vancouver's Black communities through his position as co-founder of the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project. Compton's speculative story collection The Outer Harbour (2014) won the City of Vancouver Book Award, with one of the collection's stories, "The Instrument," garnering a National Magazine Award. The book includes innovative use of visual elements as part of a narrative that revisits ideas of colonization and incarceration, related both to Indigenous peoples and to immigrants to Canada.
His poetry includes 49th Parallel Psalm (1999), which was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and Performance Bond (2004). His non-fiction work After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region (2010) was nominated for the City of Vancouver Book Award. His most recent book is a young adult graphic novel, The Blue Road: A Fable of Migration (2019), illustrated by April dela Noche Milne.
Saleema Nawaz is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her 2020 novel Songs for the End of the World was published in the same year as the worldwide spread of COVID-19, and caused a sensation because it depicts a society devastated by a global pandemic resulting from a new coronavirus. Nawaz's novel relays a message of hope during our current crisis in positing the importance of community in difficult times. Her short story collection Mother Superior (2008) won the Writers' Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, and her novel Bone and Bread (2013) was awarded the Quebec Writer's Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction; it was also a national bestseller and a finalist for the 2016 Canada Reads competition. Saleema Nawaz lives in Montreal.
Anne Stone is a writer, editor, and instructor of Creative Writing and Literature at Capilano University in Vancouver. Her newest book, Girl Minus X (2020), is a speculative YA novel that represents the struggles of a teenaged girl who must survive in a society that has collapsed because of a virus that affects memory. Through a depiction of a decaying world, Girl Minus X focuses on the power and importance of memory. Her previous works include the novels jacks (1998), Hush (1999), and Delible (2007), which was listed as a Globe & Mail "Book of the Year." She has co-edited a special issue of the journal West Coast Line on representations of murdered and missing women. Currently, Stone is working on a book of short stories with the themes of trauma and loss at its core.
Tonia Laird is a Métis writer of fiction and of scripts for video games and comic books; she is also an editor and a professional illustrator and storyboarder. Laird's work encompasses action/adventure, horror, the fantastic, the supernatural, and the speculative. Her most recent work, Poster Girl (2020), is an interactive speculative novel set in a distant future in which Earth is dying due to environmental degragation. Readers can access Poster Girl through an app called Tales: Choose Your Own Story. Laird also has writing credits for the interactive games Dragon Age 2 (2011) and Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014). She is currently working on a fantasy novel that addresses themes of colonialism, kinship, and intergenerational trauma and healing. Tonia Laird has an MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan and lives in Saskatoon.
Iris Hauser is a Saskatoon painter. Her paintings are notable for their use of narrative, realism, and non-conventional symbolism. They depict human faces and bodies, but also landscapes and mystical, often disturbing imagery, inviting viewers to reflect on a collective sense of humanity. The Plastic Age, featured on our conference webpage and program, is a powerful speculative representation of a world out of balance. Hauser has taught art through the Mendel Art Gallery and the University of Saskatchewan Certificate Art and Design program. She is an active member of Saskatchewan's art community, having served on the board of CARFAC Saskatchewan and as a juror for the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils.
Laura St. Pierre
Laura St. Pierre completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at Concordia Unversity in Montreal, and her work can be found in public and private collections across Canada. She has exhibited throughout the country and abroad, most recently at the Remai Modern, VivianeArt in Calgary, Stewart Hall Gallery in Montreal, and the Art Gallery of Alberta. She teaches as a sessional instructor at the University of Saskatchewan and is currently working on an augmented reality project with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Her presentation includes pieces from Urban Vernacular, a series of cobbled-together dwellings or structures located on the fringes of urban space; Spectral Garden, involving preserved flora from ecologically sensitive landscapes, including the Boreal forest; and The Sowers, which depicts interventions in the urban environment in the form of small gardens thriving in unlikely places. The presentation draws parallels between narrative and world building in photography/video and literary forms of speculative fiction, exploring the potential of the arts as agents of change in the climate crisis.
Marlene Goldman is a writer, filmmaker, and English professor at the University of Toronto. Her books include Rewriting Apocalypse in Canadian Fiction (2005) and Forgotten: Narratives of Age-Related Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease in Canada (2017), which was nominated for both the Gabrielle Roy Prize and the Canada Prize, the top scholarly award for books in the Humanities. Her most recent work examines the connection between shame and stigma, especially as it relates to age; her upcoming project Performing Shame: Simulating Stigmatized Minds and Bodies will consider intersections between aging and technology.
Goldman's films serve as case studies for clinicians, caregivers, and people living with age-related disorders. The short film Piano Lessons was adapted from Alice Munro's "In Sight of the Lake." Torching the Dusties (2018), an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's short story of the same name, has special relevance for us during the current pandemic because it explores what happens when a society decides that old people's lives have little or no value.
Dwayne Brenna is a writer, actor, and drama professor at the University of Saskatchewan. He has acted at the Stratford Festival and has appeared on television and in films. A series of character-based vignettes written and performed by Brenna, The Adventures of Eddie Gustafson, had a five-year run on CBC Radio.
Brenna is the author of several books, including Scenes From Canadian Plays, studies of Saskatoon’s Greystone Theatre and 25th Street Theatre, two books of poetry, and the historical novel New Albion, set in a theatre in East London in 1850-51. His stage plays have been produced at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon, and Neptune Theatre in Halifax. His new play The Promised Land was recently workshopped at the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre. The first scene is directed for the conference by Jennica Grienke, Artistic Associate at Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon. The scene was published in the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild 2021 anthology apart: a year of pandemic poetry and prose.