Sparking Imagination in Children

The Morrin Centre’s tenth annual writers’ festival brings stories to life in schools

From April 2 to 7, 2019, the Morrin Centre will be celebrating its tenth annual Imagination writers’ festival. Twenty-six authors will travel from coast to coast to share their stories, ideas, and imagination with audiences of all ages. In addition to the events being held at the Morrin Centre, the festival’s programming this year includes 24 activities outside its walls,in elementary and high schools, as well as at Champlain St. Lawrence College.

Sheree Fitch, Vikki VanSickle, Lorina Mapa, Waubgeshig Rice, and Lisa Moore are the authors who will be traveling throughout Quebec City, Lévis, and Portneuf to meet students in English-speaking and French-speaking schools. They will give talks and workshops in English, offering teachers and their classes the opportunity to connect with these authors in the context of their mother tongue or in that of their second language. In many cases, these intergenerational encounters allow students to meet published writers in the flesh for a first time, and lead to surprising discussions that reflect their interests. Portneuf Elementary, La petite école Vision Lévis, Quebec High School, and the Collège Saint-Charles-Garnier are some of the schools who have partnered with the Morrin Centre on the occasion of Imagination 2019.

For the president of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, Barry Holleman, “outreach and engagement with the community are at the heart of the Morrin Centre’s vision. We want to continue developing projects with partners in education and offer a variety of cultural experiences to young audiences across our region that reflect our country’s diverse cultural fabric.” Quebec City’s English-language cultural hub works with teachers and school boards to host activities with writers and artists outside its walls all year round. As an example of this, Central Quebec School Board’s Performing Arts Festival to be held on March 29 is another event for which the Centre will be bringing writers to Quebec City. On this occasion, the Centre will present workshops with two storytellers on travel writing and song writing.

A variety of activities exploring literacy, arts, and sciences are put together by the Centre’s Education Coordinator Azanie Roy, to allow youth to access cultural programming around the year. The Centre’s children’s programming has expanded considerably since September 2018 and now includes coding workshops, a hands-on music series titled It’s Instrumental!, as well as a theatre project with high school students.

Imagination in schools: a short history

Education, heritage, and the arts are the three pillars that guide the Morrin Centre’s mission. Building on its rich history and the institutions that shaped it, including the Morrin College (1868-1902), the Centre is committed to allowing students of all ages to connect with authors and develop a love of reading. The Centre’s programming aims to provide historical perspective on the region’s unique French-English heritage, develop enhanced educational opportunities for youth, and act as a springboard for artistic creativity. Writers have been visiting schools through Imagination every year since the festival’s beginnings in 2010.

About the authors

Sheree Fitch is a multi-award-winning writer, speaker, educator and the author of over 30 books in a variety of genres. Since the publication of her first book, Toes in My Nose in 1987, she’s travelled the globe as a visiting poet ad storyteller, writing instructor and literacy educator. A popular presenter at literary festivals, libraries, and conferences, Fitch has received the Vicky Metcalf Award for a body of work inspirational to Canadian children and three honorary doctorates for her contribution to Canadian literature and issues affecting women and children. She owns Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery, a seasonal book shop in rural Nova Scotia. 

Lisa Moore has written three collections of short stories, Degrees of Nakedness, Open, and her most recent publication, Something for Everyone, which was long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She is the author of three novels, AlligatorFebruary, and Caught, as well as a stage play based on her novel February. Open, Caught, and Alligator were short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and February was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and won Canada Reads. Lisa has also published a young adult novel called Flannery

She selected and introduced The Penguin Book of Canadian Contemporary of Women’s Short Stories and Racket: New Writing Made in Newfoundland. She was the co-editor, along with Dede Crane, of Great Expectations: 24 True Stories about Childbirth, and co-editor, along with Alex Marland, of The Democracy Cookbook, a collection of essays about governance in Newfoundland. Lisa is an Associate Professor at Memorial University. 

Lorina Mapa was born in Manila in 1970 and at the age of sixteen moved with her family to Washington DC. In 1990 she graduated from the Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in New Jersey where she met her artist husband Daniel Shelton (creator of the comic strip Ben). They have four children and live in Hudson, QC, Canada. Her graphic novel Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me (“touching and joyous” – Publisher’s Weekly; “the emotion shines through on every page” – Booklist) has been featured on the CBC and Conde Nast Traveller, and nominated by the American Library Association as a Great Graphic Novel for Teens.

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community, and won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014. He currently works as a multi-platform journalist for CBC in Sudbury. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for excellence in First Nation Storytelling. Waubgeshig now splits his time between Sudbury and Wasauksing.

Vikki VanSickle is the author of a number of acclaimed novels for children including Words That Start With B, Summer Days, Starry Nights, the award-winning The Winnowing and the picture book If I Had a Gryphon. Vikki started her career as a bookseller and she now balances her writing with her job as Marketing Director at Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers. She lives in Toronto with her cat, Barb.

The festival is made possible thanks to the support of many partners, including the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Entente de développement culturel.

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For questions and interview requests:

Elizabeth Perreault

Development and Communications Director

Jeanne Lebossé-Gautron