Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Spring Memoirs with New Perspectives

Memoirs can take us inside the lives of people just like us or those who are completely different. They let us experience the world through someone else’s eyes and each time, they leave us changed. From May 2nd to 7th we’ll explore stories of love, peace, change and strength with our memoir writers.


Yousef Bashir – The Words of My Father

Friday, May 3rd • 6:00 pm

In The Words of My Father, Yousef Bashir describes the experience of growing up in Gaza amid the region’s complex maelstrom, and talks about being raised by his father whose message of peace now strongly resonates with him.

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Kim Thuy – Secrets from my Vietnamese Kitchen

Friday, May 3rd • 7:30 pm

In her first cookbook, novelist Kim Thuy shares stories of food and family from whom she learned appreciate good cuisine.

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Yasuko Thanh & Samra Zafar – The River of Life

Sunday, May 5th • 6:30 pm

It takes strength to break out from the life you have known and pursue your dreams. Sometimes those closest to you are the biggest detractors, and sometimes the biggest obstacle is yourself. Coming from two very different walks of life, Yasuko Thanh and Samra Zafar share their stories of perseverance and transformation.

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Joshua M. Ferguson, Lorimer Shenher & Kristen Worley – Beyond Binaries

Sunday, May 5th • 8:30 pm

As a filmmaker, a cop, an Olympic cyclist, and writer our memoirists have excelled and pushed the boundaries, but some of the most challenging boundaries they have pushed are those dictated by gender. They share their experiences so that the next generation of transgender and non-binary folks will feel seen, heard and less alone.

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Alicia Elliott & Terese Marie Mailhot – Living History

Monday, May 6th • 8:30 pm

When it comes to colonization, the impact can sometimes seem abstract but the effects are experienced in a myriad of ways, from food security to interpersonal relationships. In their memoirs, Alicia Elliott and Terese Marie Mailhot bring those experiences to the forefront.

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Vivek Shraya – Death Threat

Tuesday, May 7th • 8:30 pm

It takes a lot of strength to live publicly, and sadly, sometimes, taking the chance to be open about who you are comes with hate mail and death threats. In her new graphic novel, Vivek Shraya explores the meaning of these threats and wonders if we can move beyond hate to a place where safety is a given, not a condition. 

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