PWAC 2008 Winnipeg AGM: A first-time perspective

Report by Marijke Vroomen-Durning

If you didn’t attend the 2008 AGM, from May 29 to June 1, maybe this will whet your appetite to attend the 2009 AGM, to be held in Toronto – not to mention that Toronto is just a wee bit closer to us than Winnipeg.

As a relatively new member of PWAC and a first-time attendee to the AGM, I had no clue what to expect. I’m also very much not a party person so – to be perfectly honest – I wasn’t sure what I would get out of this. But being so solitary in my work, I felt I had to go, just to get out and do something different.

I’m glad I did go. I didn’t partake in the partying (that was asking a bit too much of my hermit-like nature), but I did attend the meetings, workshops and the banquet. The meetings were interesting because they gave me an idea of how things worked, although the actual AGM was unfortunately so filled with glitches, that I don’t feel enough was discussed or that much got done. But sometimes these things can’t be helped.

The workshops were, to me, too much on the basic level, too elementary, so that was disappointing. However, we did have an ad hoc session with Nathalie Kleinschmit about working with clients overseas. That was a great session and I believe she will be doing a more official version of this next year.

There was a panel of editors from three different milieus in writing. The first, the editor of the Beaver, Mark Reid, was very informative and gave me a great idea while I was listening to him. The second speaker, John Morriss, wasn’t quite as helpful. He is editor for many agricultural magazines and newsletters that are mostly available in the west. In fact, he seemed to go out of his way to tell us how he doesn’t use many freelancers and doesn’t pay very well (and how, apparently, you can’t make money on the Web). Most of us asked after the panel why he was even there. The third panel speaker was Todd Besant from Turnstone Press, who described what he’s looking for if you are writing literary books.

The speakers were entertaining and informative. Kim Jasper from the Asper Foundation gave a video presentation of the upcoming Canadian Human Rights Museum, a $265-million project with a yet-to-be-determined construction date. A lunchtime talk by two representatives of iCopyright was informative, along with Dr. Lawrence Berg, who spoke about Neoliberalism.

Finally, at the Saturday night award presentation banquet, we had the honour of having Senator Sharon Carstairs, who spoke passionately about human rights, the Winnipeg AGM organizing committee’s theme.

One of the highlights of the whole event was a non-official event that took place on Sunday evening after the AGM ended. A group of us went to Earl’s for supper and Winnipeg PWAC member Jim Chliboyko offered to take us on an impromptu walking tour of Winnipeg and St. Boniface. Who knew that Jim’s backyard bordered on the house where Gabrielle Roy was born? It was a great way to end the event and I was so pleased to be able to see a bit of Winnipeg through the eyes of someone who loves where he lives.

This does bring me to mention that if we’d been five minutes faster getting back to the hotel, we would have seen Prince Edward making his way from his limo to the elevator. Who knew we’d be so close to royalty at an AGM?

Back to Belles Lettres: Fall ’08

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