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From exploring fantasy to changing reality: The Ottawa International Writers Festival

Ottawa International Writers Festival launches book on activist women.

A book featuring stories on 28 inspiring activist woman written by 28 female authors, and titled “When we are Bold”, launched this week at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, with the help of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

Adam Kveton / Metro Order this photo

A book featuring stories on 28 inspiring activist woman written by 28 female authors, and titled “When we are Bold”, launched this week at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, with the help of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

The fall edition of the Ottawa International Writers Festival is underway and features a potent mix of both reality checks and escapes this year.

But this week, there’s a definite focus on reality, and how to change it.

The festival, along with the Nobel Women’s Initiative, launched a new book outlining the inspiring stories of 28 women across the world, as told by 28 high-profile authors.

The book, entitled “When we are Bold: Women who Turn our Upside-down World Right,” is meant as a celebration of the work women have done, often without acknowledgement, to promote and instil peace and justice, said the book’s editor, Rachel Vincent. But hopefully it will also serve as a motivation and a guide to show “ordinary” people how they can change the world around them.

 “These stories, we hope, are kind of road maps. There is no mystery of how you become an activist. It’s just ordinary people saying, ‘This is what matters to me and I am going to do something about it.’

“What we hope is that women will see themselves in these stories, because it’s up to us, right?”

One story in particular that stuck with Vincent is one told by Laura Zuniga Caceres. Caceres wrote on her mother, Berta Caceres, an Indigenous Lenca activist in Honduras who was murdered in her home this March after opposing a hydroelectric dam project. The day before, Laura and her brother had left their home at their mother’s insistence, saying they would be safer if they stayed away.

“I wanted to believe nothing could happen to her, because my mother was the most invincible woman I had ever known,” wrote Laura. But the international outrage and her mother’s legacy have proven Laura right, she says.

The festival continues until Oct. 26.

For more information, go to writersfestival.org.

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