banner image with a colourful quill and the name of the conference

BIPOC Writers Connect returns on October 20, 2022!

This virtual conference for Black, Indigenous, and racialized emerging writers is your chance 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), BIPOC Writers Connect: Facilitating Mentorship, Creating Community includes one-on-one feedback from a published author, a practical workshop on writing query letters, an industry panel discussion, and plenty of networking opportunities.

TWUC and LCP are committed to cultivating space where BIPOC writers can share tools, strategies, feedback, and knowledge. Amid the ongoing uncertainties and challenges caused by the pandemic, opportunities for mentorship and community are needed now more than ever.

This event is free for attendees, but advance application is required. We welcome applications from emerging writers across Canada. Read on for more details. 

Event Sponsors

Thank you to our event sponsors, whose support of BIPOC Writers Connect makes this national program possible:

  • Presenting Sponsor Penguin Random House Canada
  • Writers' Trust of Canada
  • Kids Can Press
  • University of Toronto Scarborough Department of English
  • Historic Joy Kogawa House
  • Westwood Creative Artists

More Information

For more information about this event, contact Program Manager Kristina Cuenca at


BIPOC Writers Connect is open to Black, Indigenous, and racialized writers in Canada who have had 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, regardless of format) or a contract offer to publish a full-length book, staff of The Writers' Union of Canada, and staff of 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 October 20, 2022.

Land Acknowledgement

BIPOC Writers Connect is hosted by The Writers’ Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets, 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.



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 online 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.

Mentors (from top left): Sharon BalaH Felix Chau BradleyMarty ChanAfua CooperNatasha DeenNorma DunningThea LimD.A. LockhartDerek MascarenhasHasan NamirDanny RamadanWanda TaylorH. Nigel ThomasJack Wang, and Jenny Heijun Wills.

Headshots of the 15 mentors.

Photo of H Felix Chau Bradley by Surah Field-Green.
Photo of Derek Mascarenhas by Khadeja Reid.


In this workshop, industry insiders will provide attendees with tips and tricks for writing a compelling query letter to a publisher or literary agent.


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!


Join us for a two-part closing panel, featuring literary industry professionals at each stage along a writer’s journey to 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.  

*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.

The Union has set aside some funding to accommodate tech rentals for participants who may require support.

Learn more about accessibility at the Union


BIPOC Writers Connect is a free event, but advance application is required. The application deadline has passed. Applications for the 2023 conference will open in Spring 2023 (TBC).

Event Sponsors



Penguin Random House Canada



Writers Trust of Canada

Kids Can Press

University of Toronto Scarborough Department of English


Historic Joy Kogawa House

Westwood Creative Artists




Canada Council for the Arts logo

Ontario Arts Council logo


Participant Bios


Sharon Bala’s bestselling debut novel, The Boat People, won the 2020 Newfoundland & Labrador Book Award and the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, was shortlisted for several awards, and is in translation in four languages. In 2017, she won the Journey Prize for her short story "Butter Tea at Starbucks" and had a second story on the long list. Sharon is a member of The Port Authority, a St. John’s writing group. Visit her at

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Afua Cooper, Ph.D., is a celebrated poet, writer, scholar, and historian. The author of six books of poetry, in 2020 Dr. Cooper was Awarded the Portia White Prize, Nova Scotia’s highest recognition for the arts. She is also the winner of the J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award for her poetry book Black Matters. Her poems have also been recorded on two CDs, Worlds of Fire (In Motion) and Love and Revolution. Afua also has the distinction of being one of the founders of the Canadian Dub Poetry Movement, and as creative director of the Dub Poetry Collective, co-organized five international poetry festivals. Her poems have been included in numerous anthologies and translated into several languages. Afua served as the Poet Laureate of Halifax from 2018 to 2020.

A nationally and internationally recognized academic, Dr. Afua Cooper is a fellow at the Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University. At the Warren Center, she is continuing her ground-breaking research on slavery, race, and Canadian universities. Afua is the Principal Investigator for A Black People’s History of Canada project housed at Dalhousie University where she teaches and holds a Killam Research Chair. For her work in and contributions to poetry, culture, history, research and scholarship Dr. Cooper was honoured by Maclean’s magazine as one of the 50 most influential Canadians.

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Guyanese-Canadian author Natasha Deen’s novel, In the Key of Nira Ghani, was a Most Anticipated Novel for both Barnes & Noble and Chapters-Indigo, is a Red Maple Honour Book, and won the 2020 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. When she’s not writing for kids, teens, and adults, she spends her time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Visit Natasha on Twitter at @natasha_deen and at

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Norma Dunning is an Inuk writer, professor and grandmother. Her book Tainna (the unseen ones) received the 2021 Governor General's award for literary fiction in English. Annie Muktuk and other stories received the Danuta Gleed award among others. He second collection of poetry Akia: The Other Side will release this summer and her first book of nonfiction will release in September of 2022. She lives in Edmonton.

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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 ReviewBest Canadian Stories and elsewhere. She works as a book critic, a story consultant for film and television, and as a visiting artist, mentor, and faculty at programs in the University of Toronto, Sheridan College, Diaspora Dialogues, TWUC, and the University of Guelph. She grew up in Singapore and lives in Toronto.

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D.A. Lockhart is the author of multiple collections of poetry and short fiction. His most recent work includes Bearmen Descend Upon Gimli (Frontenac House, 2021), Go Down Odawa Way (Kegedonce Press Press, 2021), and Breaking Right: Stories (Porcupine’s Quill, 2021). His work has appeared widely throughout Turtle Island including Best Canadian Poetry 2019the Malahat Review, Grain, CV2TriQuarterly, The FiddleheadARC Poetry Magazine, and Belt. Along the way his work has garnered numerous Pushcart Prize nominations, National Magazine Award nominations, and Best of the Net nominations. He is a graduate of the Indiana University – Bloomington MFA in Creative Writing program where he held a Neal-Marshall Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. He is pùkuwànkoamimëns of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation. Lockhart currently resides at Waawiiyaatanong and Pelee Island where he is the publisher at Urban Farmhouse Press.

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Derek Mascarenhas’s linked short story collection, Coconut Dreams, was called a "stunning debut" in Quill and Quire's starred review and The Globe and Mail named it one of the best reads from Canadian small presses. Derek's first picture book, 100 Chapatis, is forthcoming in 2023, and he is currently working on a speculative novel.

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Danny Ramadan is an award-winning Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker, and LGBTQ-refugees activist. The Clothesline Swing, Danny’s debut novel, won the Independent Publisher Book Award for LGBT Fiction and the Canadian Authors Association’s award for Best Fiction; was shortlisted for the Evergreen Award, a Sunburst Award, and a Lambda Award; and was longlisted for Canada Reads 2018. The novel is translated to French, German, and Hebrew. His children’s book, Salma the Syrian Chef, was released in March 2020 by Annick Press. It is shortlisted for the Blue Spruce Award and was on multiple best-of lists throughout 2020. Danny’s next novel, The Foghorn Echoes, will be released in June 2022, and his memoir, Crooked Teeth, will be released in 2024, both with Penguin Random House. He was named among the Top Immigrants to Canada 2017 as well as awarded the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Award for Excellency. He finished his Masters in Fine Arts – Creative Writing at UBC and lives with his husband, Matthew Ramadan, in Vancouver.

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H[ubert] Nigel Thomas emigrated from St Vincent and the Grenadines to Canada in 1968. In addition to scores of essays, he’s the author of six novels, including Easily Fooled, three collections of short fiction, two collection of poems, and two books of literary criticism. Lives: Whole and Otherwise and Behind the Face of Winter have been translated into French as Des vies cassées and De glace et d’ombre, respectively. He is the recipient of awards, and was twice been nominated for the QWF Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize. For more info consult

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Jack Wang is the author of We Two Alone, 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, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the University of East Anglia. He teaches writing at Ithaca College.

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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 & Mail Best book of 2019. Older Sister was also listed as a CBC Best in Canadian non-fiction in 2019 and one of the Winnipeg Free Press’s Top 10 books by a Manitoban writer in the last decade.

She is co-editor of Adoption & Multiculturalism (University of Michigan Press, 2020). This year, her co-edited Teaching Asian North American Texts will be published by the Modern Language Association Press. Wills is Professor of English at the University of Winnipeg, where she is Chancellor’s Research Chair and the Director of the Critical Race Network.

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