11. To Canada, From Nigeria
Date: May 3, 2022
Time: 5:00 pm – 6:15 pm ET
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Cheluchi Onyemelukwe is a writer, academic and lawyer. Her debut novel, The Son Of The House, was finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2021, won the Nigeria Prize for Literature, 2021, the SprinNG Women Authors Prize 2020 and the Best International Fiction Prize, Sharjah International Book Fair. She is at work on her second novel.
Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr is a speaker, author, and consultant with a passion for human development and connection. Her latest book is I Am Because We Are, out now with House of Anansi Press. She is the founder of She ROARs, an organization committed to coaching women of colour around the world to connect to their intuition and purpose. Her work is focused on harnessing the power of our interdependence with a foundation in the humanist African philosophy of Ubuntu, which celebrates our shared humanity. Chidiogo has lived and worked across four continents and speaks seven languages, including Mandarin, German, Spanish, and French, allowing for an even deeper connection with people. She led the growth and impact of the Global Shapers Community across Africa and the Middle East.
Tolu Oloruntoba lived in Nigeria and the United States before settling in the metro area of Coast Salish lands known as Vancouver with his family. He spent his early career as a primary care physician, and currently manages virtual health projects with organizations in British Columbia. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, while his debut chapbook, Manubrium, was a bpNichol Chapbook Award finalist. The Junta of Happenstance, his first full-length collection, was the winner of the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Poetry.
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, Yejide Kilanko lives in Chatham, Ontario where she practices as a social worker. Kilanko’s debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, a Canadian national bestseller, was longlisted for the 2016 Nigeria Literature Prize. A poet and short story writer, Kilanko’s work includes a novella, Chasing Butterflies, two children’s picture books, There Is An Elephant In My Wardrobe, and Juba and The Fireball. Kilanko’s latest novel, A Good Name, is available now.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.
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.
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.
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.
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.