2020 Festival Staff

Festival Director—Jessica Johns
managingeditor [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Jessica Johns is a nehiyaw aunty and a member of Sucker Creek First Nation in Treaty 8 territory of Northern Alberta. She is the managing editor of Room magazine and a co-organizer of the Indigenous Brilliance reading series, a collaborative series between Room and Massy Books celebrating Indigenous women/2SQ storytellers. She has been published in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass Buffalo, CV2, SAD Magazine, Red Rising Magazine, The Rusty Toque, Poetry is Dead, and Bad Nudes, among others. Her short story, “The Bull of the Cromdale” was nominated for a 2019 National Magazine Award in fiction and her debut poetry chapbook, How Not to Spill, is out now with Rahila’s Ghost Press.

Marketing and Development Manager (Incoming) / Programming Committee—Nav Nagra
outreach [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Nav Nagra has been a collective member with Room for nearly six years. She was the editor for the Migration issue and the editor for the upcoming Winter 2019 issue as well. When not with Room, Nav gets herself into trouble by saying yes to amazing projects while working on what she hopes will one day be a novel. @stelladalle

Marketing and Development Manager (Outgoing / Consulting) / Graphic Design—Meghan Bell
publisher [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Meghan Bell’s writing has appeared in over a dozen literary magazines and publications across Canada, including JoylandGrainThe Puritan, The New QuarterlyCarousel, Prairie Fire, and the anthology Tesseracts 21. Her first short story collection will be published by Book*hug in 2021. Meghan has worked in marketing and as a grant-writer for multiple arts organizations in the Lower Mainland, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, Just For Laughs NorthWest, and BrandLive. She is currently the publisher and graphic designer of Room@meghanlbell

Marketing Coordinator / Programming Committee—Kayi Wong
marketing [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Kayi Wong graduated from UBC in 2014 with a BA in English literature. She has also worked at a children’s library, an independent bookstore, and a publishing agency. Currently, she does marketing and publicity for bookish folks, namely Raincoast and Room@kayitypes

Publicity—ZG Communications
zoe [at] zgcommunications [dot] com

ZG Communications is a feminist, full service marketing agency dedicated to promoting ideas that can transform the world. Prior to founding ZG Communications, Zoe Grams managed marketing campaigns for national and international clients at PR agencies in London and Vancouver, in addition to providing publicity to award-winning authors at D&M Publishers, at the time the largest independent publisher in Canada. She has arranged nationwide tours for leading authors; launched challenging social justice initiatives; and secured hundreds of media opportunities for clients. While earning an MA in Philosophy, she was responsible for managing and redesigning two culture magazines, both of which won national magazine awards during her editorship. Via ZG Communications, Zoe also manages all marketing and publicity at the Vancouver Writers Fest—one of the world’s largest literary festivals—and, as marketing associate, handles marketing strategy and execution for publishing strategies company, Page Twozgcommunications.com

Logistics Manager—Meagan Joy Black
festival [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Meagan Joy Black is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. She works part-time for Arc Poetry Magazine, and won Carleton University ‘s Lillian I. Found Poetry Award in 2012 and 2015. As well as poetry, Meagan Joy is interested in writing for children and young adults (don’t ask about the edits on her YA novel in verse!), genre fiction, and audio books. Meagan Joy has had pieces published in Arc, Carousel, ottawater, and The New Haven Review, among other publications. You can find new work by her in Body Politic: Illustrated poems about the body and disability, and on her website, http://www.actuallyreadbooks.com/.

Hospitality Coordinator—Mica Lemiski
production [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Mica Lemiski is the host of “Fainting Couch Feminists,” a new podcast with Room, and the magazine’s productions coordinator. Her writing has been published in RoomThe Walrus, and Vice, among others. She is originally from Vernon, B.C. but is currently based in Vancouver. @micalemiski

Volunteer Coordinator—Selina Boan
volunteer [at] roommagazine [dot] com

Selina Boan is a moniyâw/nehiyaw poet living on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. She has been published widely and her work was included in The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2018. She works as a poetry editor for Rahila’s Ghost Press. @selina_boan

Black and White photo of Dana Kagis

Active Listener Coordinator—Dana Kagis

Dana Kagis is a white, cis, queer settler, born and raised on unceded Coast Salish territories. She has a background in activism, which began over three decades ago with her involvement in land defense struggles. On any given Monday for a span of seven years, you might have found Dana at the front door of the Vancouver Poetry Slam. She comes to Growing Room Festival as the previous Active Listener Coordinator at Verses Festival of Words. Dana’s credentials include a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, a history of non-profit administration and a demonstrated passion for building and connecting mutually supportive, accountable community. Her chicken soup is a well-known cure for ailing East Vancouver activists and artists.

Programming Committee—Chelene Knight

Chelene Knight is the author of the poetry collection Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award, and long-listed for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making Room, Love Me True, Sustenance, The Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter. The Toronto Star called Knight, “one of the storytellers we need most right now.” Knight was the previous managing editor at Room (2016- June 2019), and programming director for the Growing Room Festival (2018, 2019), and now CEO of #LearnWritingEssentials and Breathing Space Creative. She often gives talks about home, belonging and belief, inclusivity, and community building through authentic storytelling. Knight is currently working on Junie, a novel set in Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley, forthcoming in 2020. She was selected as a 2019 Writers’ Trust Rising Star by David Chariandy. @LWEstudio

Programming Committee—Serena Lukas Bhandar

Serena Lukas Bhandar is a Punjabi/Welsh/Irish writer, water witch, and workshop facilitator living as a settler on Lekwungen and WSANEC lands. Her Pushcart Prize-nominated writing has recently appeared in Nameless Woman: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color and Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture, among other places. A member of the editorial board of The Malahat Review, Serena currently splits her time away from writing between providing inclusive sexuality education to middle-schoolers, supporting survivors of sexualized violence with the Anti-Violence Project, and mentoring trans, two-spirit, and non-binary youth through the Trans Tipping Point project. @serenaherazade

Programming Committee—Carleigh Baker

Carleigh Baker is an nêhiyaw âpihtawikosisân /Icelandic writer who lives as a guest on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwu7mesh, and səl̓ilwəta peoples. Her work has appeared in Best Canadian EssaysThe Short Story Advent Calendar, and The Journey Prize Stories. She also writes reviews for the Globe and Mail and the Literary Review of Canada. Her debut story collection, Bad Endings (Anvil, 2017) won the City of Vancouver Book Award, and was also a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Emerging Indigenous Voices Award for fiction, and the BC Book Prize Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award. She is the 2019/2020 writer in residence at Simon Fraser University, and a 2020 Shadbolt Fellow in the humanities. @CarleighBaker

Programming Committee—Jillian Christmas

Jillian Christmas is a queer, black writer living on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people, where she served for six years as Artistic Director of Versəs Festival of Words. As an enthusiastic organizer and advocate in the Canadian arts community, her focus has been to increase anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. She has executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, The Chan Centre, Vancouver Opera, and more. Her forthcoming debut book of poetry will be released in Spring 2020 with Arsenal Pulp Press.

Youth Programming—Isabella Wang

Isabella Wang is a young, emerging Chinese-Canadian writer from Vancouver, B.C. Her poetry and essays have been published in literary journals across Canada, and her first chapbook, On Forgetting a Language, was published by Baseline Press in 2019. At seventeen, she was the youngest writer shortlisted for The New Quarterly’s 2017 Edna Staebler Essay Contest. She is a student at SFU and the submissions coordinator at Room Magazine@isabellawangbc

Indigenous Brilliance Team

jaye simpson is a libra sun, sagittarius rising, scorpio moon. jaye is a displaced indigenous person living, creating & occupying on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations territories. they are a co-organizer of the Indigenous Brilliance reading series, a collaborative series between Room Magazine and Massy Books celebrating Indigenous women/2SQ storytellers. @jayesimpson94

Emily Dundas Oke is an emerging curator and interdisciplinary artist. A 2018 graduate of Philosophy and Visual Art (BA) from Thompson Rivers University, she has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the Ken Lepin Award of Excellence for the Arts. She is an alumni of the TRU Indigenous Knowledge Makers program and is currently a co-organizer of the Indigenous Brilliance reading and performance series. Emily has exhibited nationally and internationally and has been an artist in residence at Nida Art Colony (Lithuania), Ideas Block (Lithuania) and the Kamloops Printmakers Society (Canada). @EmilyDundasOke

Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros is a queer, inner-city Nêhiyaw and Afro-Brazilian Cafuzo. Born and raised in diaspora as a guest on the unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories, she is currently finishing her BA at Simon Fraser University and working as a Youth Counsellor. Her own artistry is multidiciplinary, grounded in honoring and witnessing the beauty of her environment and communities. Karmella’s most recent work was featured in VINES Art Festival 2019. You can find her on Instagram @kc.bdb.

Patricia Massy is of Cree and English descent and a member of the As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation (Kelly Lake Cree Nation). Patricia is the owner of Massy Books, the official bookseller of Growing Room. @massybooks


Cicely Blain Consulting who is conducting our anti-oppression training for festival volunteers as well as helping us build our community guidelines and festival policies

Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods who is helping us with our accessibility audits and to develop our accessibility protocols

Breathing Space Creative who conducted our programming audit and is helping us with our author care practices throughout the festival

Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility who is coordinating ASL interpreters

Official Bookseller

Massy Books, the best bookstore in all the land, is once again the official bookseller for the Growing Room Literary & Arts Festival.

“The new guard of CanLit has arrived, and it is young, diverse, wired—and passionately political.”—The Toronto Star

Growing Room is Room magazine’s annual literary and arts festival, a celebration of diverse Canadian writers and artists which takes place every March on the traditional, unceded, and ancestral territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish peoples (Vancouver, British Columbia). The festival started in 2017 by Room collective member Arielle Spence, was continued in 2018 and 2019 with Chelene Knight, and is now directed by current managing editor Jessica Johns. The festival is made possible through all the love, labour, and vision of the Room staff and volunteers and the community of which the organization hopes to represent and reflect.

Room is committed to deepening our learning about inclusion and accessibility, both within the systemic structures of the festival and the creative curation. Growing Room is a celebration, a protest, a reflection, a re-visioning, a gathering, a question, and a dream.

Before attending Growing Room, check out our Community Guidelines and Zero Tolerance Policies. We want Growing Room to be a safe space for everyone, and strive to do so with continual staff and volunteer anti-oppression training and community engagement. Moreover, we want Growing Room to be a space where historically and institutionally marginalized people are able to fully participate, free from harassment and violence.