Publishing Unbound (February 9­–11, 2018) brought together authors, activists, scholars, and publishing professionals from across Canada for a conversation about systemic barriers to accessing Canadian publishing and the often-exclusive world of Canadian writing known as CanLit. Conversations about inclusivity and barriers to access in Canadian publishing are coming to a head. Publishing Unbound seeks to name structural issues of racism, sexism, ableism, and cis-supremacy, while reimagining what Canadian publishing could be and developing strategies to enact real change.

Spanning two and a half days, the event was organized in conjunction with Simon Fraser University Publishing Program’s Emerging Leaders Symposium, launched in 2016 as a way of building further connections between Master of Publishing students and the Canadian publishing community. The final day of the 2017 Symposium was dedicated to discussions of diversity in publishing. Participants agreed that one day was not enough.

By overlapping with Emerging Leaders, our workshop ensured the widest possible audience: a preliminary panel and workshop will be open to MPub students and publishing professionals; an evening panel discussion which was open to the public; and an intensive day and a half of conversation which was limited to invited participants in order to facilitate engaged and productive discussion and planning.

This event will not be the decisive conversation about inclusivity and accountability in Canadian publishing. Rather, it is the beginning of a larger conversation amongst industry professionals, writers, editors, and teachers of Canadian Literature. The panels were organized around a discrete set of questions. Please check the schedule for more details.

Publishing Unbound engaged in focused dialogue around topics from publishing in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to the cultural and political role of Canadian presses and magazines, to the importance of intergenerational mentorships. Our goal is to produce a set of practical materials, including recommendations and resources, for publishers, authors, activists, and teachers. In this way, Publishing Unbound strives to build on the conversations that have come before and help facilitate the important work that is yet to come, as we collectively build a more diverse and inclusive publishing industry.

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