BIPOC Writers Connect: Facilitating Mentorship, Creating Community is a virtual conference for Black, Indigenous, and racialized emerging writers to connect with industry professionals, established authors, and fellow emerging writers — all in one place! Presented by The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) and the League of Canadian Poets (LCP). TWUC and LCP are committed to cultivating space where BIPOC writers can share tools, strategies, feedback, and knowledge. 

BIPOC Writers Connect is a free event, with no application fees, but advance application is required. Our warmest thanks and congratulations to the entire cohort of 2023. Stay tuned for details on BIPOC Writers Connect 2024.

BIPOC Writers Connect includes:

  • one-on-one time for feedback with a professional writer who has reviewed your work in advance;
  • panel discussions with literary industry professionals;
  • a behind-the-scenes look at manuscript selection as panelists offer feedback on the first pages of anonymously submitted manuscripts;
  • workshop on writing query letters; and
  • networking opportunities.


BIPOC Writers Connect 2023 mentors and panellists



Open to Black, Indigenous, and racialized writers in Canada who have a minimum of one published piece of writing (e.g., an article or short story in an online newspaper, school paper, or magazine), and who currently have a work-in-progress (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, YA, or children's writing) to submit for manuscript evaluation. Writers who have one or more full-length published book (traditional or self-published) or contract offer, and staff of The Writers' Union of Canada or the League of Canadian Poets are not eligible to apply. Previous BIPOC Writers Connect mentees are not eligible to reapply. Applicants must be 18 or older by application deadline.

Land Acknowledgement

BIPOC Writers Connect is hosted by TWUC and the LCP, whose staff are based in Tkaronto, a Mohawk word which translates to “Where The Trees Meet The Water,” or “The Gathering Place.” Tkaronto is bound by Dish With One Spoon, a treaty between the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee to share the territory, promote peace and protect the land. We acknowledge them and any other Nations who care for the land — recorded and unrecorded — and we pay our respects to Canada’s first storytellers.



Mentees will convene for moderated icebreakers to freely share writing challenges, conference goals, and tips for success. Moderated by Terrie Hamazaki, Mirabelle Chiderah Harris-Eze, and Zilla Jones.

Manuscript Evaluation & Mentorship

Each successful applicant will be paired with a professionally published Black, Indigenous, or racialized writer, who will have had an opportunity to read their work-in-progress in advance of the virtual conference. At BIPOC Writers Connect, writers take part in a one-on-one discussion with their mentor for feedback on their submitted work-in-progress.

Query Writing Intensive

In this workshop, Chelene Knight will provide attendees with tips and tricks for writing a compelling query letter to a publisher or literary agent and answer any questions you may have.

Virtual Networking

Connect with writers and industry professionals from across the country during facilitated networking sessions throughout the conference. This is always a highlight for BIPOC Writers Connect participants!

First Page Challenge & Industry Panel

Join us for a two-part closing panel, featuring literary industry professionals at each stage along a writer’s journey toward getting published. First, attendees get a behind-the-scenes look at manuscript selection as panelists offer on-the-spot feedback based on the first pages of anonymously submitted manuscripts. Following the First-Page Challenge, there will be a moderated discussion on some of the challenges, pressures, and opportunities that come with immersing oneself in the world of writing.* Presenters include Naseem Hrab, Lavanya Narasimhan, and presenter-moderator, Léonicka Valcius.

*Applicants can decide whether or not to allow their manuscript/work-in-progress to be evaluated during this session, keeping in mind that if your work is evaluated during the session, you will not be identified.

Accessibility & Accommodations

This event was created in response to the unique barriers faced by Black, Indigenous, and racialized emerging writers navigating the literary industry. TWUC recognizes that various historic and structural inequities, due to discrimination based on age, class, cultural or linguistic background, disability, economic status, gender, gender identity, race, religion, and sexual orientation have created barriers to access and, consequently, equity measures are required to promote full participation in Canada’s literary industry. In doing so, we have the opportunity to create more space for Canadian writers and writing. TWUC continues to consult widely on equitable terminology. We continue to prioritize equitable and responsive programming for the writing community.

BIPOC Writers Connect is hosted on Zoom. The conference will be automatically live captioned, with live transcription enabled. The Union has set aside funding to accommodate tech rentals for participants who may require support. To encourage full participation, all attendees have been offered a tech subsidy upon request. 

Learn more about accessibility at the Union



BIPOC Writers Connect is a free event, with no application fees, but advance application is required. Applications are currently closed. Stay tuned for details on BIPOC Writers Connect 2024. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Program Manager, Kristina Cuenca at kcuenca[at]writersunion[dot]ca.


Photo of H Felix Chau Bradley

H Felix Chau Bradley is the author of Personal Attention Roleplay, a collection of stories, which was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Kobo Rakuten Emerging Writer Prize in 2022. Their writing has appeared or is forthcoming in carte blanche, Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy Magazine, the Humber Literary Review, Maisonneuve Magazine, the Montreal Review of Books, PRISM international, Weird Era, Xtra, and elsewhere. They live in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), where they work as an editor and occasional translator for publications such as Metonymy Press, This Magazine, and Le Sigh. They are working on a novel.


Photo of Jenna Butler

Dr. Jenna Butler is an award-winning poet, essayist, editor, and retired professor of creative and environmental writing. She is the author of three books of poetry, two collections of ecological essays, and an Arctic travelogue. Revery: A Year of Bees, essays about beekeeping, the climate crisis, and trauma recovery, was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award in Nonfiction and a longlisted title for CBC Canada Reads 2023. A queer BIPOC writer and off-grid organic grower in northern Treaty 6, Butler works to build community around equitable land access and reciprocal relationships in farming.

Photo: Thomas Lock.


Photo of Kevin Chong

Kevin Chong is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including the new novel The Double Life of Benson Yu. Those titles have been named books of the year by Globe and Mail, National Post, and, listed for a CBC prize, a BC Book Prize, and a National Magazine Award, optioned for film and TV, and published in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. His creative nonfiction and journalism have recently appeared in the Time, Literary Hub, the Montecristo, and the Walrus. An Associate Professor at the UBC Okanagan, he lives in Vancouver with his family.

Photo: Iris Chia.


Photo of Natasha Deen

Guyanese-Canadian Natasha Deen is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. Her works include In the Key of Nira Ghani (Amy Mather Teen Book Award), Spooky Sleuths: The Ghost Tree (School Library Journal Best Books of 2022), and The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad, Globe and Mail's Top 100 Books for 2022. When she’s not writing, she teaches Introduction to Children’s Writing with the University of Toronto’s SCS and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house.


Photo of Farzana Doctor

Farzana Doctor is a Tkaronto-based author and psychotherapist. She has written four critically acclaimed novels. Her latest, Seven, was shortlisted for the Trillium and Evergreen Awards. Her poetry collection, You Still Look The Same, which Quill & Quire has called “a powerful and necessary collection,” was released in May 2022. In 2023, Farzana received the prestigious Freedom to Read Award. The Beauty of Us, a YA novel, will be released in fall 2024.


Photo of Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence has been writing full-time since 2010 and has written a bunch of books, but she’s probably best known for her picture books, Missing Nimama and Stolen Words, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the 2018 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award respectively. In her spare time, Melanie plays guitar, collects vinyl, listens to really loud rock music, gets tattoos and drinks too much coffee. She lives in Toronto with her family.


Photo of Thea Lim

Thea Lim is the author of An Ocean of Minutes, a shortlisted finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her writing has been published in Granta, The Nation, The Paris Review, Best Canadian Stories, and elsewhere. She has served as visiting artist, mentor, and faculty for the University of Toronto, Sheridan College, Diaspora Dialogues, the University of Guelph, the Toronto Public Library, and the Writers' Trust. She grew up in Singapore and lives in Toronto.


Photo of Tariq Malik

Tāriq Malik has worked across poetry, fiction, and art for the past four decades to distill immersive and compelling narratives that are always original. He writes intensely in response to the world in flux around him and from his place in its shadows. His published works, including Rainsongs of Kotli (TSAR Publications, short stories, 2004), Chanting Denied Shores (Bayeux Arts, novel, 2010), and now Exit Wounds (Caitlin Press, Poetry, 2022), challenge entanglements in the barbed wires of racism and cultural stereotyping in art, the workplace and across societies. Tāriq was the Writer-in-Residence (July 2023) at the Historic Joy Kogawa House, and has offered Poetry Master Classes at various locations.


Photo of Suzanne Methot

Suzanne Methot is the author of the award-winning nonfiction book Legacy: Trauma, Story, and Indigenous Healing (ECW Press, 2019), which Margaret Atwood chose as one of 10 books to read for “important background reading in a time of Canada-First Nations clashes,” and co-author of the textbook Aboriginal Beliefs, Values, and Aspirations (Pearson/Goodminds, 2011). Her new YA book Killing the Wittigo: Indigenous Culture-Based Approaches to Waking Up, Taking Action, and Doing the Work of Healing was published in June 2023 by ECW Press. Suzanne is a writer, editor, educator, and community worker who has over 30 years of experience creating and applying equity-based programs, curriculum, and service frameworks in the education, social service, and museum sectors. She has also worked in advocacy and direct-service positions at Indigenous-led organizations including the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto and the Anishinabek Nation, and currently facilitates change-making sessions at Indigenous community-based organizations including Strong Nations (Nanaimo, BC), Hiiye’yu Lelum House of Friendship (Duncan, BC), and the First Peoples Wellness Circle (North Bay, ON). In 2019, Suzanne mentored an Indigenous entrepreneur through the Indigenous ACE Program at the University of Victoria. She has also mentored post-secondary students through the Indigenous Career Mentoring Circle at Toronto Metropolitan University. Born in Vancouver and raised in Sagitawa (Peace River, Alberta), Suzanne is Asiniwachi Nehiyaw (Rocky Mountain Cree) of mixed Indigenous and European heritage. She lived on Wendat-Haudenosaunee-Anishinabeg territory in Toronto for 29 years, and now lives on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw Nation, near Nanaimo, BC. Her middle grade book, Clean Water, will be published by Scholastic Canada in fall 2023 as part of a new graphic history series. She’s also working on an Indigenous atlas of Canada for Kids Can Press, which will be published in 2026, and two books of literary fiction. She is represented by Cooke McDermid Literary Management.


Photo of Jennifer Mook-Sang

Jennifer Mook-Sang was born in Guyana and moved to Canada at the age of 14. She is the author of the best-selling middle grade novel Speechless (Scholastic) and picture books Captain Monty Takes the Plunge (Kids Can Press) and The Care and Keeping of Grandmas (Tundra/Penguin Random House). When not writing, Jennifer likes to read recipe books and make things like pepperpot, biryani, and cassava pone. She can also twist a mean balloon animal.



Photo of Danny Ramadan

Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author and LGBTQ-refugees advocate. His novels, The Clothesline Swing (Nightwood - 2017) and The Foghorn Echoes (Penguin - 2022) continue to receive accolades. His award-winning children’s series The Salma Books is released by AnnickPress. It includes picture book Salma the Syrian Chef (2020), and early chapters books Salma Makes a Home and Salma Writes a Book (2023). He is expected to release his memoir Crooked Teeth in 2024. His short stories and essays have appeared in publications across North America and Europe. Since his arrival to Canada, Ramadan has raised over $300,000 for LGBTQ+ identifying refugees.


Photo of Zalika Reid-Benta

Zalika Reid-Benta is the author of Frying Plantain, which won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction. Frying Plantain was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and it was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, the Toronto Book Award, the White Pine Award, and the Evergreen Forest of Reading Award. Zalika served on many juries including the Giller, the Danuta Gleed, the Amazon First Novel Prize, and the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award. She received an MFA from Columbia University, was a John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and was the 2021–2022 Writer in Residence at Western University. Zalika’s second book, River Mumma, a magical realist novel inspired by Jamaican folklore, will be released by Penguin Canada on August 22, 2023.


Photo of Dane Swan

Dane Swan is the author of five books, comprised of two books of short fiction and three books of poetry that include: the Trillium Book Prize for Poetry nominated, A Mingus Lullaby; and the ReLit Poetry Prize nominated, Love and Other Failed Religions. Dane is also the editor of the anthology, Changing the Face of Canadian Literature, which was featured on CBC Books' 2020 Best Canadian Books list and has been taught in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. Two of Dane's poems are featured in composer Paul Frehner's Sometimes the Devil Plays Fate, which premiered at the Lincoln Center in NY and Toronto's Temerty Theatre (at the Royal Conservatory of Music) in 2022.


Photo of Jack Wang

Jack Wang is the author of We Two Alone, longlisted for Canada Reads 2022 and winner of the 2020 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best debut collection in English from The Writers’ Union of Canada. His fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Journey Prize. He has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and held the 2014–2015 David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He teaches writing at Ithaca College.


Photo of Jenny Heijun Wills

Dr. Jenny Heijun Wills is the author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. (McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada), the recipient of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize in 2019. It also won the Eileen McTavish Sykes Best First Book Prize from the Manitoba Book Awards and was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2019. She has a forthcoming collection of personal essays to be published by Knopf Canada in 2024.


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Photo of Nasreem Hrab

Naseem Hrab has worked in children’s publishing for over fifteen years. She’s the Associate Publisher, Creative at Kids Can Press, a former librarian, and a Governor General’s Literary Award-winning children’s book author.


Photo of Chelene Knight

Chelene Knight is the author of the Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award, and long-listed for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making Room, Love Me True, Sustenance, The Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter, winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Award. Her poem, “Welwitschia” won the 2020 CV2 Editor's Choice award. She was shortlisted for PRISM's 2021 short forms contest. Chelene's novel Junie (Book*hug 2022) was longlisted for the Inaugural Carol Shield Prize for fiction and is a finalist for the 2023 Ferro-Grumley Prize for LGBTQ fiction. Chelene’s latest book of narrative nonfiction Let It Go is forthcoming with HarperCollins Canada in 2024. Knight was the previous managing editor at Room magazine, and the previous festival director for the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver. She has also worked as a professor of poetry at the University of Toronto. Chelene is now founder of her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative through which she’s launched The Forever Writers Club, a membership for writers focused on creative sustainability, and the Thrive Coaching Program.

Photo: Jon McRae.


Photo of Lavanya Narasimhan

Lavanya Narasimhan was born in India and grew up in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong before moving to the U.S. for tertiary education. She spent seven years at the Penguin Random House U.S. office in New York before moving to Toronto four years ago and has worked on the imprint, international, distributor, and retail sales teams. She is currently the Director of Special Markets and New Business at Penguin Random House Canada and has served as a mentor for BIPOC in Publishing, as well as participated in other programs focused on supporting BIPOC presence in book publishing. She is an avid reader, occasional writer, and a full-time content consumer.


Photo of Valcius Léonicka

Léonicka Valcius is a Literary Agent at Transatlantic Agency, representing commercial and genre fiction for adults and children. Léonicka previously worked at Penguin Random House Canada, at Scholastic Book Fairs Canada, and at Centennial College. She is currently a JD Candidate at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law.

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Photo of Terrie Hamazaki

Terrie Hamazaki performed her plays at the Vancouver BC Fringe and Women in View Festivals. Her writing has appeared in Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception and Adoption Stories, and Beyond the Pale: Dramatic Writing from First Nations Writers and Writers of Colour, amongst others. Her story “good daughter” was shortlisted for The Malahat Review 2020 Constance Rooke CNF Prize. She is the recipient of several Canada Council and BC Arts Council grants for past and current work. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, U.K.


Photo of Mirabelle Chiderah Harris-Eze

Mirabelle Chiderah Harris-Eze is a Canadian-Nigerian-American who loves writing about Chinooks, failure, and Igbo masquerades. In 2021, her story "dark" won The Writers' Union of Canada's Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers. Mirabelle's work has been longlisted for the International Commonwealth Short Story Prize thrice. Her writing has also been longlisted for the 2022 and 2023 CBC Short Story Prize, placing among the top 36 entries out of over 2300 submissions. Mirabelle is currently working on her debut novel and believes the jubilant, harrowing, and vast histories of the African diaspora are worth writing about.


Photo of Zilla Jones

Zilla Jones, African-Canadian from Treaty 1 (Winnipeg) is a 2023 Journey Prize winner, Writers' Trust Bronwen Wallace award finalist, and has won the Open Season, Jacob Zilber, Freefall and GritLit Festival fiction awards. She won runner-up in the Prairie Fire and Austin Clarke contests, and honourable mention in Room’s contest. Her work appears in Prairie Fire, the Malahat Review, PRISM international, Freefall, the Fiddlehead, the ex-Puritan, Bayou Magazine, Nottingham Writers’ Studio’s The George Floyd Short Story anthology, and others. Her debut novel The World So Wide and short story collection So Much to Tell will be published in 2025 and 2026; details on socials in October 2023.


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Co-Presented by

The Writers' Union of Canada logo

League of Canadian Poets logo



Sponsored by


Penguin Random House Canada logo




Writers' Trust of Canada logo



Kids Can Press logo

University of Toronto Scarborough - English


Historic Joy Kogawa House

Westwood Creative Artists logo



Supported by

BIPOC Writers Connect: Facilitating Mentorship, Creating Community is presented by The Writers’ Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets. This event is funded by Presenting Sponsor Penguin Random House Canada, as well as The Writers’ Trust of Canada, Kids Can Press, University of Toronto Scarborough Department of English, Historic Joy Kogawa House, and Westwood Creative Artists. Our thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for their support, Another Story Book Shop, and all the funders, sponsors, and donors who support our work on behalf of all writers.