KPU Sponsors Annual Growing Room Festival

The festival is dedicated to creating space for feminist and Indigenous art and literature

Readings took place as a part of Growing Room Festival, which strives to be as inclusive and accessible as it can be. (Lisa Hedmark)

Room Magazine, Canada’s oldest feminist literature magazine, has been hosting the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver since 2017. This year’s festival, held March 11-15, is filled with many new and exciting events and activities. Attendees have the chance to take part in panels, workshops, movie screenings, markets and many more literary events in accessible spaces.

“Access is an act of love and community building,” reads the Growing Room website. “Growing Room Literary & Arts festival is on a journey to create the most inclusive and accessible festival events that we can.”

The organizers and volunteers believe “ableism and lack of access are deeply tied to colonial systems of oppression — systems that we are actively trying to reject and fight against.”

(Lisa Hedmark)

This year’s Growing Room festival organizer and managing editor of Room magazine Jessica Johns says attendees can expect to see “many new and wonderful things.”

“We have a festival marketplace featuring local Black, Indigenous, and people of colour entrepreneurs selling their art, jewelry, zines, prints, tea, soap, and more,” she says. “We also have a festival food truck, Tayybeh. Both the marketplace and the food truck will be at Emily Carr University from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm on Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15.”

This is the first year Growing Room is showing a film at one of their events. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn, will be shown at Growing Room’s all-day Indigenous Brilliance event on Sunday, March 15 at Beaumont Studios.

KPU Creative Writing professor Jen Currin will be moderating the much anticipated “Not Your Sidekick: Queer Characters” event on Sunday March 15, from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm at the Native Education College. The event will also feature authors Tanya Boteju, Alex Leslie, Tash McAdam, and Addie Tsai.

(Lisa Hedmark)

Nav Nagra, publisher of Room magazine, says her favourite aspect of the festival is bringing the community together.

“Each event is filled with such warmth and thoughtfulness; I just love that aspect of Growing Room every year. This year we’re having a flower crown workshop and I am so excited to be able to host that kind of artistic expression at our festival,” says Nagra.

Johns suggests that students check out the “Exploring the Spirit of Sound” workshop by Indigenous musician Edzi’u.

“This workshop is based around sound recording and sound mixing to create a musical soundscape. I took this workshop with Edzi’u a couple months ago, and I know nothing about this industry, but it was so fun and engaging. I think embracing storytelling in all the forms it exists is really beautiful, and Edzi’u is an amazing facilitator,” says Johns.

Admission to all events is by donation. Attendees are encouraged to pay what they can.

“We want to make our events as financially accessible as possible,” says Johns.

“Tickets for our opening night party featuring music from Tonye Aganaba, Chelsea D.E Johnson, Missy D, and DJ Denise are $15, which is also the cost of registration for our workshops. However, we encourage students and BIPOC folks to get in touch with us if cost is a barrier to their participation and we will register in these events for free (as long as there’s space)!”

Students are encouraged to register for workshops as soon as possible as spaces can fill up quickly.