IWA at Winter Fest 2019

On December 14th, the Immigrant Writers Association (IWA) participated at the Winter Fest 2019 organized by the Toronto North Local Immigration Partnership (TNLIP). We showcased IWA’s anthology, books by several members, and each of them got attention. We’ll let the IWA’s representatives at this event—David Albertyn and Gabriela Casineanu—to share their experience.

“Representing IWA at Winter Fest 2019 in Don Valley North was a wonderful experience. The event was fun and heart-warming, bringing together community members (many of them immigrants), service-providers, and newcomer entrepreneurs to share resources, make connections, and welcome new opportunities. An undercurrent of warmth flowed through the entire event. It was especially uplifting to see so many kids and young people having a good time, in such a spirit of inclusivity. Several young people visited our table, and we encouraged their own writing and shared information about our association—such a rewarding experience!

I really enjoyed sharing with visitors and readers (including the City Councillor for Don Valley North) the news that my book, Undercard, which will soon be released in Germany, France, and the US. After all the years of struggle and setbacks, it’s exciting finally having some good news to share with people.
Having now sold books at several events of my own, I found it particularly enjoyable to do so as part of the IWA team at this event. Having more than one writer at the table, with more books than just one’s own, attracts more people and makes us also more approachable. There was a relaxed atmosphere and, with Gabriela, we worked together to garner the potential readers’ interest.

Speaking from experience, it is just more fun to sell books at an event as a team than on your own. And logistically everything is much easier when done in a group as part of an association: set up and wrap up, checking in with event organizers, taking pics for promotional purposes, even taking breaks to check out the event, go to the bathroom, or grab food.
I’m a member of several writer organizations, and IWA is very active compared to almost all the others, providing lots of opportunities and camaraderie for its members. It’s also a great way to connect with and support Canada’s immigrant community, something I strongly believe in.”
~David Albertyn
“I too enjoyed the event. Besides being fun and engaging, the Winter Fest gave IWA and its members’ books extra exposure, and I left with many ideas on how to improve IWA’s presence to such events (to be more effective). I sang, and danced, and talked with curious visitors, (potential) readers, upcoming members, and representatives of all the government levels who liked what we do and IWA’s mission—one even asked if IWA has an office and any financial support (grants, sponsors), he seemed interested to help us. Our Twitter message was retweeted several times… so more people heard about IWA. Yeyyy!
When two parents asked if their children can join IWA—they love writing, one is only 8-years old!—it made me think: shall IWA create a writing program for children and youth?

I made new connections that could lead to opportunities for IWA, its members, and myself. The feedback and suggestions received are invaluable!
Don’t be surprised if you’ll see IWA mentioned at the Toronto Nuit Blanche 2020. An artist who’s preparing a project for that event bought IWA’s anthology to get inspiration from this book. She found our association via online search and heard that we’ll be at the Winter Fest… small world!
For me, it’s not the first time when I represented IWA at events. Although each one is different, I found each experience beneficial for both IWA and myself—that’s why I keep attending these events. Besides working as a team (which makes it easier), I too sold more books via IWA’s booth than when I had a booth all by myself at the Words On The Street Toronto Festival 2018–and it was not fun to wait for people to stop by. The variety of genres of IWA books attracts visitors naturally while being all local authors and immigrants stirs their curiosity!
Come join us next time as visitors, authors or volunteers… we welcome all!”
~ Gabriela Casineanu
IWA Founder & President

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