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Lesley Choyce

Lesley Choyce was born in New Jersey in 1951, and has lived in Canada since 1978. Throughout the years, Choyce has worked as a rehab counselor, a freight hauler, a corn farmer, a janitor, a journalist, a guitarist, a newspaper boy and a well-digger, but he is best-known for his work as a writer. From young adult fiction, to poetry, to histories and anthologies, Choyce's name is attached to almost 100 published texts. In addition to writing, Choyce also teaches part-time at Dalhousie University, runs Pottersfield Press, hosts a Halifax-based talk show, is part of a band called "Lesley Choyce and the Surf Poets," and, as evident by his band's name, is an avid surfer. 

Choyce currently lives in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. 

Robert Rayner

  

 Born in 1946, Robert Rayner grew up in England and worked as a journalist in Cambridge before becoming an educator and settling in Canada. He spent time as a teacher in Glovertown, Newfoundland, and as an elementary school principal in St. George, New Brunswick. Rayner currently lives on the Magaguadavic River in St. George where he continues to write and teach music.


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Saqamaw Mi'sel Joe

Mi'sel Joe was born on June 4th, 1947 in Miawpukek. Miawpukek is the traditional Mi'kmaq name for the community; the community is also known as Conne River. Mi'sel Joe comes from a strong Mi'kmaq family, and the office of hereditary Saqamaw, or Chief, was held by both his grandfather and his uncle. As a young man, Mi'sel Joe left the reserve, and worked in a variety of different positions before returning to the reserve. Once Mi'sel Joe had returned to Miawpukek he became strongly involved in First Nation politics, and after the death of his uncle in 1982, Mi'sel Joe became the Traditional Saqamaw, as well as the Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi'kmaq Grand Council. Mi'sel Joe is also the spiritual leader of his people. His knowledge and specialization in natural medicines and remedies has earned Mi'sel Joe international recognition, and he has spoken at several international alternative medicine conferences. Mi'sel Joe has a daughter and a granddaughter, and currently lives in Miawpukek with his wife.

Shauntay Grant

Shauntay Grant is a writer, spoken word performer, broadcast journalist and musician. She has shared her blend of poetry and music internationally at festivals and events, and as Halifax's third Poet Laureate she organized Canada's first national gathering of Canadian Poets Laureate in 2010. Shauntay conducts arts workshops and performances for youth and adults at festivals, schools and community centres around the country, and she was a Poet of Honour at the 2010 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Ottawa. Her children’s picture book memoir Up Home (Nimbus 2008) won a 2009 Best Atlantic Published Book Award, and her stage play Steal Away Home won the 2011 Jury Award for Outstanding Drama at the Atlantic Fringe Festival. Shauntay is the recipient of a 2011 INSPIRE Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters. She’s been a regional music host for CBC Radio in the Maritimes, and she was the national host for CBC Radio’s Poetry Face-Off in 2008 and 2009. Shauntay serves on the board of Youth Voices of Nova Scotia and she coordinates CommUNITY, a spoken word showcase and charity event presented monthly in Halifax.

Sheree Fitch

Sheree Fitch was born in Ottawa, Ontario on December 3, 1956, and she grew up primarily in Miramichi, Fredericton, and Moncton, New Brunswick. She has lived in Washington, DC, and currently resides in Dartmouth and River John, Nova Scotia, with her husband, Gilles. Fitch has a BA from Saint Thomas University in Fredericton, NB. Her MA from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, focused on the complexity of childhood in Dennis Lee’s poems and studied the interaction between the oral tradition involved in the recitation of children’s poetry and the larger community. She holds an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Acadia, St. Mary's University in Halifax, NS, and Saint Thomas University in Fredericton, NB. In addition to reading and writing, Fitch enjoys time outdoors and pursues a variety of interests including theology, going to the gym, yoga, and gardening.
Activism: Fitch is a passionate advocate for education and social justice. She has taught literacy in the Arctic and Bhutan. In addition to participating in many readings and writers’ festivals in Canada, she has read all over the world in countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, China, Belize, and Mexico. Her book, If You Could Wear My Sneakers, was written in association with UNICEF and includes poems about fifteen of the fifty-four articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Locally, Fitch is Honorary Spokesperson for the New Brunswick Coalition for Literacy and for the Nova Scotia Read to Me Program, which encourages and facilitates parents reading to their children. Fitch’s Kisses-Kisses Baby-O! was given to every newborn in Nova Scotia in 2008. Each year Fitch sponsors a writing competition for New Brunswick Youth for NB Writers Federation.

Writing Career: Fitch had her first child when she was seventeen and was a single mother of two children by the age of twenty-four. Her first book, Toes in my Noes, was written for her then two-year-old son, Jordan when she was twenty. After many rejections, during the time she was a single mother of two children, it was published ten years later. Since then she has published many books, and has most recently written an adult novel, Kiss The Joy as it Flies. Her young adult novel, The Gravesavers is currently being turned into a script for a movie.
Fitch believes that reading and writing are important to life. Fitch has “faith in the healing power of narrative and art. To heal. To whole. To tell—to connect. With an other.”
Fitch notes how she does not see the world in an overly cheerful, nonsensical way. Rather, nonsense is necessary precisely because life is so dark. Therefore, it has a redemptive quality: “People think that if you write nonsense, that’s how you see the world,” says Fitch. “I have a different theory: it’s actually a dance in the light in spite of the darkness. I started doing [children’s stories] at one of the lowest times of my life.” (Quill and Quire.)

In responding to questions about writing for children, Fitch clearly notes that writing for children should not be easy and should be held to the same standards as other literature because children, like adults, deserve good literature. She states that language should be used in a way that suits one’s readers: “Words, Words, Words. Not puerile or bombastic, pretentious, precious, or unnecessarily mellifluous just because like me you can become obsessed with word music or sometimes think you need to show off vocabulary skills to prove your worth as a writer. The right word. The only word. The cadence of words. Become a logophile. Fall in love with every letter of the alphabet and see how they slide and swoosh together in words. It's not just what you do with words or what they do for you it's what words do for your readers.”
 

Valerie Sherrard

Valerie (Russell) Sherrard was born in 1957 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She has lived in various provinces including Alberta and Ontario and currently resides in Mirimichi, New Brunswick, in a former funeral home with her husband, Brent, who is also a writer, and their cats. She has two children, Anthony and Pamela, and three stepchildren. Sherrard’s novel, Kate, about a fourteen-year-old dying of a brain tumour, is dedicated to Rebecca, her daughter who passed away at nineteen months of age. Sherrard was the director of a group home for teens for eleven years and has been a foster parent to over seventy teenagers.


As a child, Sherrard lived in Germany where her grade six teacher, Alf Lower, inspired her to write. Characters are important to her, and she will allow the voices of her characters to determine the direction of the plot. Sherrard gives presentations on writing and reading to youth in grades primary to twelve.


Sherrard enjoys reading, writing in the early morning, brain teasers and Sudoku, and playing chess and scrabble with her husband. She has too many favourite books to name, and her favourite movies include The Dead Poet’s Society and Pride and Prejudice.

Vicki Grant

Vicki Grant was born, raised, and currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That said, she has also spent time living in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver, Boston, and Totonicapán, Guatemala.

Before becoming a writer, Grant worked as a copywriter and a producer and writer of children's television. Vicki Grant is an engaging writer who uses humour. She has nine published books, with a tenth soon on its way. As a writer of young adult fiction, she frequently participates in the Writers in the Schools program, hosts the "Kid Lit Cafe" at a local coffee shop, and travels across Canada to partake in numerous book award tours and writers festivals.

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