2016 Presenters

  • 32 years of BookFest

2016 Presenters

The 30th Annual BookFest was held on Saturday, May 7, 2016 in Nanaimo!

Leah Dorion

Have you ever wanted to learn more about Canadian Metis culture? Such as how the Metis people made Lobstick Poles in the fur trade, cached their traditional foods, or traveled by Red River Cart across the prairies? Saskatchewan Metis author and illustrator Leah Marie Dorion speaks about her artistic process, the cultural influences in her work, and shares stories that reflect Metis culture past and present. Featured books include: Metis Strong Readers Series, The Giving Tree, and My First Metis Lobstick. Ages 8+

Leah Marie Dorion is an interdisciplinary Metis artist raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. A teacher, painter, filmmaker and published writer, Leah views her Metis heritage as providing her with a unique bridge for knowledge between all people. Leah holds a Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts degree. She has numerous creative projects to her credit, including academic papers for the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, books for children, gallery showings of her art works, and numerous video documentaries that showcase Metis culture and history.

Sheree Fitch

Delicious purpleishous lipslippery adventures in poetry and storytelling by veteran teller of tales and tangled tongue twisters. Reading from award winning books, you’ll be inspired, fired up and invited in to Sheree Fitch’s imaginative whirling world of words and serious JOY! Featured books include: Mabel Murple, Monkeys in my Kitchen, Toes in my Nose, Sleeping Dragons, and The Gravesavers. Ages 5+

Sheree is the author of 20 children’s picture books, and has also written for teens and adults. She is a staunch promoter of literacy, and is currently the honorary spokesperson for the New Brunswick Coalition for Literacy and the honorary spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Read With Me Program. She holds two honorary doctorates for her contribution to Canadian literature. She received the President’s Award from the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick and the prestigious Vicky Metcalf Award for a body of work in children’s literature. Sheree lives in River John, Nova Scotia.

Julie Flett

 Julie Flett will share stories about picking berries, lost dolphins, and summers in northern Manitoba. Learn how to count in Cree and make your own counting book! Featured books include: as author/illustrator: Wild Berries, We All Count: Book of Cree Numbers; as illustrator: Dolphins SOS by Roy and Slavia Miki, Dragonfly Kites by Tomson Highway. Ages 5+

Julie Flett is an award-winning author, illustrator and artist currently living in Vancouver, BC. She is Cree-Métis. Julie studied fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal and Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. She received the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her book Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet (L’alphabet di Michif), and most recently Julie’s book Wild Berries/Pakwa che Menisu was chosen as the First Nation Communities READ title selection for 2014-2015. As the author and illustrator of the 2014-2015 selection, Julie is the first-time recipient of the 2014 Aboriginal Literature Award, sponsored by the Periodical Marketers of Canada.


Marie-Louise Gay

Everything you have always wanted to know about… curious kids, lost polar bears, soaring pterodactyls, spotted snails, shy giants and talking trees; also how to illustrate a book, where ideas come from and how to let your imagination run wild! Marie-Louise Gay‘s featured books include: Any Questions?/ Stella and Sam Books/ Caramba/ Roselyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth. Ages 5+

Award-winning author/illustrator Marie Louise Gay has written and/or illustrated over sixty books for children, in English and French. She studied graphic design at the Institut des arts graphiques in Montréal, animation at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts School, and illustration at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco.She has worked as a professional illustrator, a freelance art director and production manager for a children’s book publisher, taught illustration, designed children’s clothing, and written three plays for which she created the sets, puppets and costumes. She was born in Québec City and currently resides in Montréal. 

Arthur Slade

Arthur Slade’s audio/visual presentations are a mixture of music, video, images and creativity and, most importantly, content. Where do ideas come from? How is a book created? How does one become an author? Featured books include: Flickers, Jolted, Monsterology, Dust, and The Hunchback Assignments. Ages 8+

Arthur Slade is the author of seventeen novels for young readers. He received an English Honours degree from the University of Saskatchewan, spent several years writing advertising and now writes fiction full time. Arthur has taught writing at the Sage Hill Writing Experience, Banff Centre of the Arts, and online for the University of Toronto, in addition to being a mentor for the University of Saskatchewan’s Creative Fiction Program. Arthur has also appeared in hundreds of schools across Canada. He was named Writer-in-Residence at Regina Public Library for 2014/2015. Arthur lives in Saskatoon.


Ashley Spires

Have you ever wondered where authors get their ideas? Or how long it takes an illustrator to draw something just right? Ashley Spires will discuss all the work and frustration that goes into making books. Featured books include: The Most Magnificent Thing, Over-Scheduled Andrew, Fluffy Strikes Back, and Binky the Space Cat. Ages 5+


Author and illustrator Ashley Spires grew up in Tsawwassen, BC and after stints living in Toronto and Saskatoon, she now lives in Ladner, having made an educated decision to never move from BC again. She is the creator of the Binky The Space Cat series of junior graphic novels, which have earned her numerous awards, including the Silver Birch Express and the Hackmatack. Her picture books, including Larf, Small Saul and The Most Magnificent Thing, are known for providing readers, young and old, with a good laugh. When not drawing, she is often jogging with her dog Gordon or wrangling her three cats, Penny, Fran and Gracie.


Jeremy Tankard

Jeremy Tankard will talk about his hatred of reading, love of drawing, and how the two lead him to a life in books. Featured books include: Melvis and Elvis, It’s a Tiger!, and Grumpy Bird. Ages 8+

Jeremy Tankard was born in South Africa, but left at the age of five for a new life in the United States. His family lived in South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee before finally moving to Canada. He now lives in British Columbia. After a childhood of drawing and writing, Jeremy attended the Alberta College of Art and Design where he studied drawing and printmaking. He worked as a graphic designer and typesetter before embarking on a career in illustration. After a few years of commercial illustration, he went back to storytelling and began writing and illustrating his own books.  


Chris Tougas

Author/Illustrator Chris Tougas has worked with Disney and many other animation studios. His latest book series Dojo Daycare is now being developed as an animated television series. Chris brings a unique blend of written and visual storytelling insight to each highly interactive visit. He reads stories, discusses the creative process, and shares FUN writing and illustrating tips. Featured books include: DoJo Day Care, DoJo Daytrip, Mechanicals, and Art’s Supplies. Ages 5+


Chris Tougas is a writer-illustrator who loves dogs, the great outdoors, writing fun stories and making art. He was born in Edmonton, Alberta. He has studied art and animation in both Canada and the US, and has worked in film animation at Disney and other studios. For the last 10 years Chris has worked as both a concept developer and character designer for film, television and new media companies such as Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, Sesame Workshop, Bardel Entertainment, Animation Lab, Nelvana, Fox and many others. Chris lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia.


Ria Voros

Ria Voros will give an interactive, fun and informative talk about her novels, Nobody’s Dog and The Opposite of Geek. She will feature haiku, her experiences growing up as a budding author, and ways to develop your own writer’s voice. Ria combines humour, literary examples and student involvement into an entertaining and thought-provoking presentation. Featured books include: The Opposite of Geek, and Nobody’s Dog. Ages 8+


Ria grew up in North Vancouver, BC. When she was very young, she decided she should be a writer because there wasn’t much else she liked to do as much as tell stories. Ria is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA program. She has published fiction and poetry in literary journals and has won several poetry and creative writing prizes. She has also taught courses in fiction, poetry, literature and writing for children. Ria lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia.