Moderators for the 2024 Festival

Angie Abdou

Canada Reads finalist Angie Abdou has published seven books and co-edited Writing the Body in Motion and Not Hockey, two collections of essays on Canadian Sport Literature. A starred-review in New York’s Booklist declared her best-selling memoir, Home Ice: Reflections of a Reluctant Hockey Mom, “a first rate memoir and a fine example of narrative nonfiction.” Elle Magazine calls her second book of creative nonfiction, This One Wild Life: A Mother-Daughter Memoir, a “sweet tale about a growing and changing parent-child relationship.” Angie Abdou is a Professor of Creative Writing at Athabasca University.

Des Kennedy

Des Kennedy has been writing and homesteading on Inner (Denman) Island for the last 50-plus years. Living a conserver lifestyle, he and his partner Sandy have created gardens that provide food and beauty throughout the year and inspire much of his writing. His published works include five novels, five books of non-fiction and a memoir along with numerous feature magazine articles, including pieces on civil disobedience, BC’s war in the woods and Indigenous issues. Three of his books were nominated for the Stephen Leacock medal for humour and one for the international Annual Literature Award by the Council of Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. Des also put in lengthy stints as a columnist for The Globe and Mail and for CBC Television. His most recent book is a novel titled Commune.

Darrel McLeod

Darrel J. McLeod is Nehiyaw (Cree) from Northern Canada, Treaty 8. He has been a French immersion teacher, school principal in Yekooche First Nation, director of a curriculum centre, executive director of Education and International Affairs at the Assembly of First Nations, and chief negotiator for the Government of Canada. He is fluent in French, Spanish, English, and is studying Cree. Darrel’s memoir, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (Douglas & McIntyre), won the  Governor General’s Literary Award for non-fiction, was nominated for the RBC Taylor Prize, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness, and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award, and has been published in French and German. Its sequel, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity (Douglas & McIntyre), published in 2021. It was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Darrel’s first novel, A Season in Chezgh’un (Douglas & McIntyre, 2023), is a finalist for the 2024 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, BC & Yukon Book Prizes. Darrel lives, writes and sings jazz in Sooke, B.C. and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Evelyn Gillespie

Evelyn Gillespie is the Owner/President of Laughing Oyster Bookshop in Courtenay, BC. As a former Canadian politician, she served as MLA for the Comox Valley riding in BC’s Legislative Assembly as a member of the BC New Democratic Party. Evelyn has a background in recreation and education, which she leveraged in her work for a Calgary shelter for abused women and children, for the Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto, and with the Vancouver Health Department.