Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

About the Writers Festival

The imagination is our most valuable renewable resource. So, twice a year we convene an international celebration of ideas to recharge our imaginations. From politics to poetry, science to music, history to thrillers, we celebrate the full diversity of the word and the gifted writers who guide us in our exploration of the world. Our year-round special events keep the ideas coming between Festivals.


We believe that a love of reading and learning should be nurtured throughout our lives and that literacy is a birthright. Whether offering writing workshops to the homeless, hosting a Nobel Laureate, organizing our biannual literary celebrations or bringing authors into area schools, our goal is the same: to create an environment that activates creativity and encourages the love of reading, learning and self-expression.


The Ottawa International Writers Festival is dedicated to providing a welcoming, respectful and comfortable environment for all. In response to complaints of harassment or inappropriate behaviour that are brought to the attention of staff, guests may be asked to change their behaviour or to leave, at the discretion of the festival. Festival staff will use their judgment to respond to any incidents or allegations. 
Diversity is a fundamental feature of our community and our programming. All races, religions and sexual orientations have and will continue to play a prominent role on and off our stage. We affirm and acknowledge that fundamental human rights include protections from harassment and discrimination.  We are committed to empathy, compassion and respect in all our interactions. 
Our work is rooted in a recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. These fundamental rights are the very foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world, and we are committed to continuing to work to ensure that our community is welcome, respected, and safe. Our performance venue is fully accessible, hearing assist technology is available to all patrons, and accommodations will be made to ensure no one is excluded from participating in our activities. If you have any questions or concerns about equity, access, or safety please do not hesitate to contact us.



About Oneness-World

Oneness-World Communications is a charitable corporation (Charitable # 86830 7778 RR0001) whose mission is “to promote an appreciation of the cultural arts in Canada through public events; to create and manage public events that promote literacy and the cultural arts; and to provide related services. The most visible manifestation of this mission is the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Spring and Fall Editions.”


In addition to our annual literary Festivals and our Write On! literacy program for young readers, we also host year-round literary events and literacy programs for the disadvantaged.


Board of Directors


Board Co-Chair: Beth Green is a reader with a lifetime spent with books, and brings decades of hands-on and executive-level experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, with a focus on communications, marketing and philanthropy. She is a past director of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre Foundation Board, and former director and chair of the Ottawa Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.


Board Co-Chair: Lucy van Oldenbarneveld spent 20 years in journalism. First as a CBC radio host and then as the evening news anchor on CBC TV in Ottawa.  Her work was recognized with a Canadian Screen Award win in 2020, numerous Gemini nominations and the Gold World Medal for Best Talk /Interview program at the New York festival. Since 2021, Lucy has been a communications strategist, offering clients a full range of services, including crisis communications. Lucy is also a filmmaker, playwright and performer. In 2022 she wrote and performed the solo show Me, Vivien Leigh and the Roller Rink.


Treasurer: Andrew Sharpe is founder and Executive Director of the Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards. Established in 1995, CSLS is a national, independent, non-profit research organization whose main objective is to study trends and determinants of productivity, living standards and economic well-being. He is also founder and Editor of the International Productivity Monitor, co-developer (with Lars Osberg) of the composite Index of Economic Well-being,  and Executive Director of the International Association for Research on Income and Wealth.


Dr. Mayurika Chakravorty is an Assistant Professor at Carleton University. Within the fields of South Asian Literature and Postcolonial Studies, her primary area of research is popular speculative fiction, specifically, science fiction and fantasy writing in colonial India. 

Kagiso Lesego Molope is an award winning author and educator. Born in South Africa, she is the winner of the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for Excellence in African Writing and the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize. Her acclaimed novel, This Book Betrays My Brother, won the City of Ottawa Book Award in 2019.


Deborah Owusu-Akyeeah is a first-generation Ghanaian-Canadian cisgender queer woman who is dedicated to the liberation of all her communities. She is currently the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Debbie has deep roots in program and project management, gender-based analysis, feminist foreign policy and international affairs. 


Richard Remillard is President of Remillard Consulting Group, and was Executive-Director of Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. He has also been a Vice-President of the Canadian Bankers Association, a Special Assistant to the federal Minister of Finance, a Public Affairs Manager with Bank of Montreal and a lecturer at Concordia University. 


Lisa Samson is the Managing Principal of StrategyCorp’s Ottawa office. She has lived and worked in Ottawa for over 25 years. Her public sector work experience includes policy creation, campaign management, and media relations.


Courtney Symons is an author and poet who loves a good haiku. After spending a decade at Shopify in various roles including Editor in Chief and personal writer to CEO Tobi Lutke, Courtney is now Editor in Chief of Built to Sell, a podcast and media company that interviews entrepreneurs about their businesses. 


Mary Taggart is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Ottawa At Home magazine. She also curates the #MarysMustRead book club and is hard at work on her debut novel.


Writers Festival Programming Streams

Poetry Cabarets

Renowned poets performing at the top of their game and interacting with the audience is live literature at its best. Some would argue that poetry needs to be read aloud. We would agree and add that there’s nothing like hearing the cadence and tone of poems when delivered by the authors themselves.

The Big Idea

Audiences in Ottawa, as befitting a national capital and an international city, demand the highest level of debate and discussion. THE BIG IDEA, our town-hall style discussion with audience participation, covers the issues of the day.


This is where book-lovers come to hear their favourite stories come to life as read by the author. More than a reading, our Fiction events also feature on-stage conversations where authors engage with the audience and their peers. Often funny, occasionally moving, and always fascinating, The Writing Life is an opportunity to spend time with the greats, to meet up-and-coming authors, and to get to know the inspiration behind the works.

The New Science

With climate change, clones, superbugs, genetic discoveries and life on Mars making headlines around the world, it’s not just experts at the NRC or intellects on campus who are fascinated by the latest scientific breakthroughs. Cutting-edge developments presented to general audiences in an interactive setting are the essence of ‘The New Science’.


Some of the world’s best writing is happening outside the pages of books. The Writers Festival regularly features staged play readings, feature films, documentaries, CD launches and songwriters circles. Innovative programming expands the Festival’s reach to youth, reluctant readers and the community at large.

History/Biography and Other Non-Fiction

With non-fiction topping bestseller lists, Festival programming features a growing number of acclaimed biographers and popular historians. With a special focus on Canadian events and including local as well as international authors, we offer audiences the opportunity to explore the world from many perspectives and to spend time with many of the most fascinating characters of today and yesteryear.