Speakers - The FOLD
book-iconFOLD Kids Book Fest

Speakers

Learn more about the amazing authors, poets and storytellers that will be taking part in this year’s FOLD Kids Book Fest.

Description

Speakers for the festivals are selected by the FOLD’s programming team and are revealed in the months before each festival. Past speakers at the FOLD Kids Book Fest include authors like Danielle Daniel, Dwayne Morgan, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Ruth Ohi, and Kai Cheng Thom.

This year, the FOLD is pleased to welcome authors from across the country, including award-winning musician Buffy Sainte-Marie, inspirational speaker and United Nations Fellow, Michel Chikwanine, illustrator Danielle Murrell Cox and more.

Featured Speaker(s)

An Indian woman in a white tank top, standing against a brick wall.
Tina Athaide
Bio

Tina Athaide was born in Entebbe. She is the author of ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS.

A young Muslim woman in a patterend dress and white hijab.
Nafiza Azad
Bio

Nafiza Azad is the author of THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME and the upcoming THE WILD ONES.

A young BLack woman with a large Afro stands against a bright window.
Britta Badour
Bio

Britta Badour, better known as Britta B., is a Kingston-born, Toronto-based spoken word poet, emcee and artist educator.

A young white man wearing an orange toque and sitting in a power wheelchair.
Shane Burcaw
Bio

Shane Burcaw is the author of several award-winning books about disability, including the picture book NOT SO DIFFERENT: WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO ASK ABOUT HAVING A DISABILITY.

A black and white photo of a young Black man, smiling against a black background.
Michel Chikwanine
Bio

An accomplished motivational speaker and author of the book CHILD SOLDIER: WHEN BOYS AND GIRLS ARE USED IN WAR, Michel grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A young Black woman smiles and frames her face with her hands against a dark background.
Danielle Murrell Cox
Bio

Danielle Murrell Cox is a minimalistic graphic designer from Canada. She graduated from the Graphic Design Program at Dawson College in 2011.

An Indigenous man wearing a checkered sweater and dark-rimmed glasses.
Dallas Hunt
Bio

Dallas Hunt is Cree and a member of Wapsewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada.

A black and white photo of an Asian woman with long dark hair.
June Hur
Bio

June Hur was born in South Korea, raised in Canada, and studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She began writing her debut novel, THE SILENCE OF BONES, after obsessing over books about Joseon Korea.

AN Indigenous man with hair pulled back in a ponytail. He wears a dark grey suitjacket and a purple collared shirt.
Michael Hutchinson
Bio

Michael Hutchinson is a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation, north of Winnipeg, and author of THE MIGHTY MUSKRATS mystery series.

An Indigenous man in a red sweatshirt.
Adam Garnet Jones
Bio

Adam Garnet Jones is a Cree/Metis author, filmmaker and beadworker from Edmonton, Alberta. His first book, FIRE SONG, is based on his award winning feature film.

An Asian woman with a short bob sits in the middle of a gallery of art sculptures. She wears a blue denim jacket and blue jeans.
Soyeon Kim
Bio

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator currently living in Toronto, Ontario.

An Indigenous woman with long dark hair sits against a misty lake background.
Jennifer Leason
Bio

Boozhoo, Aniin Keesis Sagay Egette Kwe nindiznikaaz (Greetings, my name is First Shining Rays of Sunlight Woman).

Dr. Jennifer Leason is Anishinaabek and a member of Pine Creek Indian Band, Manitoba, and the author of BLUEBERRY PATCH.

A black and white photo of an Indian woman
Joshna Maharaj
Bio

Joshna Maharaj is a chef, a two-time TEDx speaker, & activist who wants to help everyone have a better relationship with their food. She is the author of TAKE BACK THE TRAY, out now with ECW Press.

A young Black woman smiles against a leafy green background
Yolanda T. Marshall
Bio

Yolanda T. Marshall is a Guyanese-born Canadian author.

An Indian woman with brown skin and dark hair looks at the camera from an angel, surrounded by leafy green trees.
Anuradha Rao
Bio

Anuradha Rao is a conservation biologist, writer and facilitator and editor of ONE EARTH: PEOPLE OF COLOUR PROTECTING OUR PLANET. She was born and raised in the traditional territories of the Anishinabewaki, Attiwonderonk and Haudenosaunee Nations and currently based in unceded Coast Salish Territories.

An Indigenous man with a goatee and dark-rimmed glasses smiels against a white background.
David A. Robertson
Bio

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

A middle-aged Indigenous woman in a black leather jacket. She is smiling and has red streaks in her long dark hair.
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Bio

Buffy Sainte-Marie has made her voice heard worldwide through her music, art, and activism, establishing herself among the ranks of music greats.

An Asiam woman in a light beige turtleneck.
Jillian Tamaki
Bio
Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator raised in Calgary. She currently lives in Toronto.
A Indigenous man wearing a white buttoned shirt and a brown beaded vest.
Richard Van Camp
Bio

Richard Van Camp is a proud Tlicho Dene from Fort Smith, NWT. He currently lives in Edmonton.

An Indian woman in a white tank top, standing against a brick wall.

Tina Athaide

Tina Athaide was born in Entebbe. After leaving Uganda she immigrated with her family to Canada from England. She has been a teacher for thirty years. Believing that books can present different experiences to children in an organic, natural way, she started publishing early literacy readers for the educational market before her debut book, ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS. The MG book is a Junior Library Guild Selection and is nominated for a Silver Birch award by the Forest of Reading program in Canada.

 

Tina will be appearing in This Really Happened: True-To-Life Stories for Young Readers.

A young Muslim woman in a patterend dress and white hijab.

Nafiza Azad

Nafiza Azad is the author of THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME and the upcoming THE WILD ONES.

 

Nafiza will be appearing in Fantastic Fiction and the Young Readers Book Club.

A young BLack woman with a large Afro stands against a bright window.

Britta Badour

Britta Badour, better known as Britta B., is a Kingston-born, Toronto-based spoken word poet, emcee and artist educator. She has mentored thousands of youth through arts programs initiated by organizations like JAYU (pronounced JAH-YOU), Poetry In Voice, Prologue Performing Arts and The Power Plant. Britta is an alumna of the Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab and a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Currently, Britta is a Creative Writing MFA candidate at University of Guelph.

 

Britta will be appearing in Power Poems for Small Humans.

A young white man wearing an orange toque and sitting in a power wheelchair.

Shane Burcaw

Shane Burcaw is the author of several award-winning books about disability, including the picture book NOT SO DIFFERENT: WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO ASK ABOUT HAVING A DISABILITY. He is the President of a nonprofit organization called Laughing At My Nightmare, and a renowned public speaker who has performed across the country at places such as Harvard University, The University of Florida, The University of Connecticut, Princeton University, and many more.

 

Shane will be appearing in Not So Different.

A black and white photo of a young Black man, smiling against a black background.

Michel Chikwanine

An accomplished motivational speaker and author of the book CHILD SOLDIER: WHEN BOYS AND GIRLS ARE USED IN WAR, Michel grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Much of his childhood was ravaged by a war that claimed the lives of 5.8 million people; his father included, and forced him to be a refugee and child soldier. Now a United Nations Fellow for People of African Descent and graduate from the University of Toronto, he now inspires people to believe in their ability to fulfill their purpose.

 

Michel will be appearing in This Really Happened: True-to-Life Stories for Young Readers.

A young Black woman smiles and frames her face with her hands against a dark background.

Danielle Murrell Cox

Danielle Murrell Cox is a minimalistic graphic designer from Canada. She graduated from the Graphic Design Program at Dawson College in 2011. In addition to her work as a graphic designer, she is an illustrator, author of the book MY HAIR, and the toy designer of the plush toys “Zuri & Dre”. Danielle is best known for her self-published colouring books Black Queens and Kings, which went viral on social media and gave her the opportunity to have a segment on NowThis and HER, among many other platforms.

 

Danielle will be appearing in The Big Birthday Bash.

An Indigenous man wearing a checkered sweater and dark-rimmed glasses.

Dallas Hunt

Dallas Hunt is Cree and a member of Wapsewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada. He has had creative and critical work published in the Malahat Review, Arc Poetry, Canadian Literature, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. His first children’s book, AWÂSIS AND THE WORLD-FAMOUS BANNOCK, was published through Highwater Press in 2018, and was nominated for the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award.

 

Dallas will be appearing in Cherishing Indigenous Languages in Picture Books.

A black and white photo of an Asian woman with long dark hair.

June Hur

June Hur was born in South Korea, raised in Canada, and studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She began writing her debut novel, THE SILENCE OF BONES, after obsessing over books about Joseon Korea. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

 

June will be appearing in This Really Happened: True-to-Life Stories for Young Readers.

AN Indigenous man with hair pulled back in a ponytail. He wears a dark grey suitjacket and a purple collared shirt.

Michael Hutchinson

Michael Hutchinson is a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation, north of Winnipeg. He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario where he works at the Assembly of First Nations, which advocates for First Nation families and communities across Canada. Prior to that, he spent 7 years as the host and producer of APTN National News. He wrote THE MIGHTY MUSKRATS mystery series to instill pride in Indigenous youth and educate others about First Nation communities, beliefs, and opinions.

 

Michael will be appearing in Fantastic Fiction for Young Readers.

An Indigenous man in a red sweatshirt.

Adam Garnet Jones

Adam Garnet Jones is a Cree/Metis author, filmmaker and beadworker from Edmonton, Alberta. His first book, FIRE SONG, is based on his award winning feature film. He currently works as the Lead of Indigenous Initiatives at Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Media Fund.

 

Adam will be appearing in After Hours: Getting Reel with Adam Garnet Jones.

An Asian woman with a short bob sits in the middle of a gallery of art sculptures. She wears a blue denim jacket and blue jeans.

Soyeon Kim

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator currently living in Toronto, Ontario. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts and Bachelor of Education from York University. She has participated in artist residencies at The Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Spark Box Studios (Picton, Ontario). As a children’s picture book illustrator, she has participated in TD Book Week 2018 and Adelaide Writers’ Week (Australia) for the Kids’ Weekend in 2017.

 

Soyeon will be appearing in Learn to Illustrate with Soyeon Kim.

An Indigenous woman with long dark hair sits against a misty lake background.

Jennifer Leason

Boozhoo, Aniin Keesis Sagay Egette Kwe nindiznikaaz (greetings, my name is First Shining Rays of Sunlight Woman).

Dr. Jennifer Leason is Anishinaabek and a member of Pine Creek Indian Band, Manitoba, and the author of BLUEBERRY PATCH. She is the proud mother of Lucas (age 11) and Lucy (age 9). Dr. Leason is a Canadian Institute of Health Research, Canada Research Chair, Tier II, Indigenous Maternal Child Wellness and an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary.

 

Jennifer will be appearing in Cherishing Indigenous Languages in Picture Books.

A black and white photo of an Indian woman

Joshna Maharaj

Joshna Maharaj is a chef, a two-time TEDx speaker, & activist who wants to help everyone have a better relationship with their food. Recently, Joshna has been working with hospitals & universities in Toronto to build new models for institutional food service. Her first book, TAKE BACK THE TRAY (May 2020), captures the lessons and experience from her work. Joshna is a regular guest on CBC Radio and she co-hosts a food podcast called HotPlate.

 

Joshna will be appearing in Our Little Kitchen.

A young Black woman smiles against a leafy green background

Yolanda T. Marshall

Yolanda T. Marshall is a Guyanese-born Canadian author. Her storybooks A PIECE OF BLACK CAKE FOR SANTA, MILES AWAY IN THE CARIBBEAN, and MY SOCA BIRTHDAY PARTY represent Canadian children of Caribbean and African heritage. A world traveller, a jazz lover and a devoted mother, she embodies Art and takes her readers on adventurous, cultured journeys.

 

Yolanda will be appearing in The Big Birthday Bash.

An Indian woman with brown skin and dark hair looks at the camera from an angel, surrounded by leafy green trees.

Anuradha Rao

Anuradha Rao is a conservation biologist, writer and facilitator and editor of ONE EARTH: PEOPLE OF COLOUR PROTECTING OUR PLANET. She was born and raised in the traditional territories of the Anishinabewaki, Attiwonderonk and Haudenosaunee Nations and currently based in unceded Coast Salish Territories. She has worked on research, conservation and restoration projects with communities and organizations in Canada and internationally. Her worldview and approach to science are heavily influenced by teachings from her Hindu culture and from Indigenous knowledge holders.

 

Anuradha will be appearing in One Earth: Youth Rally for The Planet.

An Indigenous man with a goatee and dark-rimmed glasses smiels against a white background.

David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (Manitoba Book Awards). A sought-after speaker and educator, he is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

 

David will be appearing in Fantastic Fiction for Young Readers and Cherishing Indigenous Languages in Picture Books.

A middle-aged Indigenous woman in a black leather jacket. She is smiling and has red streaks in her long dark hair.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie has made her voice heard worldwide through her music, art, and activism, establishing herself among the ranks of music greats. Her long career has seen her rise to stardom on the festival and performing arts circuit, with forays into country, rock, folk, soundtracks, acting, activism, and children’s television. In 2020, she added children’s picture-book author to her incredible list of accomplishments with the release of HEY LITTLE ROCKABYE — A LULLABY FOR PET ADOPTION.

 

Buffy will be appearing in Hey Little Rockabye.

An Asiam woman in a light beige turtleneck.

Jillian Tamaki

Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator raised in Calgary. She currently lives in Toronto.
Jillian will be appearing in Writing KidLit Workshop [For Adults].
A Indigenous man wearing a white buttoned shirt and a brown beaded vest.

Richard Van Camp

A proud Tlicho Dene from Fort Smith, NWT, Richard Van Camp is the author of 24 books out these past 24 years. He lives in Edmonton with his family.

 

Richard will be appearing in Writing KidLit Workshop for Young Writers.

The FOLD is a remarkable and wonderful event for authors and attendees alike. What an amazing community, dedicated to the vital need for inclusive stories and the critical role they play in building a better world.

Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her

Field Guide to the North American Teenager is my first novel and FOLD was my first Canadian literary festival. While American and Canadian culture overlap quite a bit, especially when it comes to bookshelves, Canadian literature is unique and I was very heartened by to be embraced by that community I consider home despite residing in the US. It was a homecoming I didn’t know I needed!

Ben Philippe, author of Field Guide to the North American Teenager

The Festival of Literary Diversity was an absolute joy–the organizers thought of *everything* and by anticipating authors’ needs, they freed us to focus on connecting with the audience and each other. There was no pretension, no posturing–just very genuine conversations with invested writers and engaged readers.

Zetta Elliott, author of Dragons in a Bag

I have been to a lot of writers festivals and the FOLD is definitely near the top of the list of those I want to be invited back to.

Harold Johnson, author of the memoirs Clifford and Firewater

Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.

Kathy Page, author of Dear Evelyn, winner of the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

Wherever I go in Canada and find another writer of colour, we eventually end up gushing about how great the FOLD is, how by normalizing diversity it liberates us to talk to audiences about craft. It’s hard to imagine the literary landscape returning to a prehistoric pre-FOLD era.

Ian Williams, Author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Reproduction

FOLD is a festival experience unlike any other I’ve had. The FOLD team strive to create a space that’s welcoming and engaging, while allowing for curiosity, ingenuity and the fostering of real community – and they succeed, every year.

Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out On The Ground

The FOLD is one of the most important literary events on this continent. By focusing on diverse voices and giving authors space to share their stories and speak their truths, it is revolutionizing the writing and storytelling realm as we know it.

Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon Of The Crusted Snow

Being part of the FOLD community has provided me with a strong sense of belonging. Sharing diverse stories and listening to different voices that broaden my understanding of the world has impacted me as a person and motivated me as a writer.

Ann Y.K. Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

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