Huge Literary Festival Celebrating Diverse Authors is Coming Back to Brampton

Brampton is one of Canada's most culturally diverse cities, and we host a multitude of events. For that reason, it's only fitting that the first and only literary festival in Canada that focuses on diverse authors and stories is coming back to Brampton next month.

The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) is returning to Brampton for the second year in a row this year from May 4-7.

The FOLD aims to create a community of readers and writers by celebrating diverse authors and literature. PAMA, City Hall, and the Rose Theatre will house a total of 23 panel discussions, networking events, lectures, spoken word and literature performances, and workshops.

Thirty diverse authors are coming to Brampton from across Canada to speak at the event, including young adult writer and professor Jen Sookfong Lee, national bestseller and professor Kamal Al-Solaylee, and Metis writer and filmmaker Katherena Vermette.

Brampton-raised author Zarqa Nawaz, creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, at the event last year

Brampton resident, published author, professional speaker, and founder of the FOLD, Jael Richardson, looks forward to the event's second run in Brampton.

"I felt really passionate about bringing something on a national scale to Brampton," said Richardson. "I wanted to start a literary festival that positions authors from marginalized communities as experts in craft, and really train another generation of writers."

Richardson's first novel, The Stone Thrower: A Daughter's Lessons, a Father's Life, about her father, former CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey, was published in 2012, and she has continued her career in writing ever since.

"I realized after one book that I had more stories to tell," she said.

The FOLD was inspired by a 2014 movement in America called "We Need Diverse Books," where a community of people were creating conversations online about why we need more books from diverse authors about diverse communities. Richardson wanted to explore what it might mean for an audience to engage with a panel of authors from different backgrounds.

At least 600 people attended the event last year, and Richardson hopes to hit a similar number for the weekend festivities this year, backed by her communications and development coordinator, a team of eight volunteers, a board of directors, and an additional 35 volunteers during the event.

The FOLD features a Writer's Hub where new writers can network with 25 publishing professionals, a Poet's Gallery where four poets will perform in the Art Gallery at PAMA, and a discussion with five Canadian authors and journalists about the role of writers in times of trouble, such as the current global political climate.

The Writer's Hub 2016

The opening and closing ceremonies bring the event full circle, opening with four immigrant female authors talking about their experience claiming their place in Canada and closing with an indigenous female author talking about the land.

"If you want to understand the heart of a country, you need to understand the women of that country," said Richardson in reference to a quote.

Individual event costs range from free to $25, and there are one-day, two-day, and all-access passes available ranging from $49-$90. For more information, full event listings, and to purchase tickets, click here.

All writers and audiences are invited to the event.

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