Writers in the Community

“It gave me a chance to do something different…I overcame my fear of shyness…The program taught me to be more open. I wasn’t really an open person back then. Then I went to the program and it made me more open to life.” WIC participant

Writers in the Community is a collaborative project overseen by Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) and The Centre for Literacy. The project has been connecting young people with some of Montreal’s finest writers for over 10 years. The Centre’s role in the project is focused on research, evaluation, and funding, helping the project to continue to expand and evolve. The Centre has had a long standing interest in enhancing literacy and basic skills through the arts.

Writers in the Community runs small workshops for at-risk youth (aged 14 to 24) led by a professional writer or literary performance artist. The project currently has nine workshops (with approximately 87 young people taking part) at locations in the Montreal. In the workshops the students are exposed to different styles of writing, poetry, and performance. Freedom of expression through words and poetry is encouraged, which creates a safe and welcoming space for the students. The workshops are usually weekly and run for about 10 weeks. At the end of the series the participants are able to make their own zine with a selection of their poems. These zines are then printed and presented at a launch party where the participants are invited to read their work.

Since 2007, the workshops have produced more than 40 zines, eight performance events, numerous sound recordings and a professionally made music video.

We have seen participants in this program improve their skills in writing and using language, and gain appreciation of various literary genres. Most importantly, they learn to use the literary arts to gain control over their lives, and make better choices for their futures.

Kadeem, one of the young writers, was honoured by the Montreal Review of Books selecting his poem ("If You Have …") for publication. See http://www.qwf.org/programs/pdf/wic_magnetic-poets.pdf for Kadeem’s poem and other young writers’ work.

Past and present partners include Mountainview High School, Dawson Alternative School, Vanguard Intercultural School, Elizabeth House, Ste Rose, BUMP, Val d’Or Community Learning Centre, O3 Les maisons transitionelles, Batshaw Youth and Family Services, LEARN Community Learning Centre Initiative, NDG Community Council, Jeunesse 2000, Head & Hands, Leave Out ViolencE, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, the Jewish General Hospital, and VOYCE (Voices Of Youth in Care).



Report: Youth at risk and the Writers in the Community Program: An exploratory evaluation

As part of its role in overseeing research and evaluation of the WIC project, The Centre initiated and managed a study in 2012-2013 that aimed to evaluate the  program and published this report that documents the methods and findings of the study.  The study hoped to identify the impact of WIC on youth participants from a Fall 2011 WIC session at the Quebec youth protection agency, Batshaw Youth and Family Centres, six months or more after the program ended.  Although the researchers encountered many challenges, they captured findings that offer insight into the promise of arts-based programs as a pathway to literary and literacy grow.
A Thank You to Sponsors

We would like to express our gratitude to the following sponsors, without whom the Writers in the Community program in 2014 would not be possible:

  • Friends of The Centre for Literacy
  • Donors to QWF's Pyramid Campaign
  • Batshaw Foundation
  • English Montreal School Board
  • Hylcan Foundation
  • George Hogg Family Foundation
  • Intact Foundation
  • Lester B. Pearson School Board
  • Pearson Educational Foundation
  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board
  • Zeller Family Foundation
  • White Star Foundation

The Quebec Writers' Federation and The Centre for Literacy acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $157 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.



The Quebec Writers' Federation and The Centre for Literacy acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $157 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Canadian Council for the Arts

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