Welcome to Spur Toronto 2016

A very warm welcome to you all. We’re delighted that you’ve joined us for Spur Toronto 2016.

Spur provides opportunities for people to debate topics or issues that may be provocative, informative, infuriating or just plain fun. We want to explore what would make this a better city, country and world in which to live. Too often political or journalistic dialogue is about what divides us, focusing on the negative minutiae of what’s wrong, rather than thinking big about what’s possible.

The 2016 theme, “Our New Tribalism,” explores a new fluidity arising in gender, race, citizenship and identity, and came out of community consultations we held across the country in the summer of 2015.

For many people and communities, ‘tribe’ is a problematic term: for some Indigenous people, the phrase represents a colonial system of categorization that places European culture atop everyone else’s and has tangible impact on legal jurisprudence even today; for others, the term is about a less formal shifting of collective identities, interchangeable in use with ‘clan.’ Our main line of inquiry this year is whether this fluidity and formation of new, distinct communities is an escape from, or reduplication of, these systems of authority and control.

Much to discuss! Spur is about opening up conversation, and in that spirit we invite you to add your much-welcomed voice to the dialogue through the four days of debates and panels conversations, book readings and spoken word performance that our team has worked hard to program.

Thank you for joining us. I look forward to meeting you, to hearing your ideas and to having some serious fun.


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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