Welcome to Spur 2017

Last summer, as we were considering our 2017 festival theme, we were struck by the juxtaposition of Canada’s sunny sesquicentennial plans and the darkening clouds of ‘populist’ intolerance gathering in the US and around the globe. The 75 Spur events we produced last year, under the “Our New Tribalism” theme, seemed suddenly more prescient, as partisanship grew rapidly and communities splintered in the US public space.

This year, accordingly, we’ve decided to tackle these issues from another, urgent angle: RISK. Namely, in light of this nation building anniversary, what are the real and perceived threats facing a better Canada and a better world? And what are we willing to risk to build a more just and equitable society?

Across topics such as the environment, the economy, geopolitics, war, race, health and the role of journalism and art, we ask, are the things we typically fear really the biggest risks for us as individuals and societies? Why do we perceive some issues, challenges or people as risky ­– and not others?

I’m glad you’ve joined us. We can all commit to acts large and small that move us in the right direction. Our hope is that through the amazing array of writers, thinkers, scientists, community leaders, journalists and others from Canada and the US talking part in Spur across the country, you will both find inspiration and an opportunity to contribute.

Your voice is important as anyone else’s at Spur, so I hope you will attend, ask questions and provide commentary. Talk to us, and to each other. And please, fill in the feedback forms, as they are essential to our designing programming that truly has impact.

With thanks for being part of Spur.

All best,

Helen Walsh
Spur Festival Director


Helen Walsh is a publisher, producer and writer. Walsh took over the Literary Review of Canada in 1998 and, along with a small group of passionate literati, re-launched the magazine later that year. She has since grown the readership, reach and influence of the magazine by producing a highly popular series of public readings and talks. In 2005, Walsh founded Diaspora Dialogues Charitable Society, an arts organization that supports the creation of new fiction, poetry and drama by culturally diverse writers. Walsh is the director and founder of Spur.

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