MacLennan Lecture | Book challenges and their impact on Canadian communities, a round table discussion (hybrid) 

When: Thursday April 25, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. EST
Where: Hybrid event (in-person, and streaming online)
How: Free to attend, register online

Book challenges are on the rise and affect Canadians of all ages, limiting access to diverse stories, and ultimately narrowing our worldviews.

The Friends of the McGill Library, in partnership with Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, are pleased to present the 2024 Hugh MacLennan Lecture, a roundtable discussion on book challenges, the Canadian context, the power of community action, and the path forward.

This event is hybrid. Registrants can select in-person or online attendance. A YouTube link will be sent to those who register for virtual attendance.

Robin Stevenson’s books are available to purchase online through Paragraphe Bookstore.

The 2024 MacLennan Lecture is generously supported by Donald Walcot. 

Register to attend online | Register to attend in-person

About the panelists

Michelle Arbuckle is an eminent figure in the library and book sectors serving as the Executive Director of the Ontario Library Association, and the chair of Canada’s Book and Periodical Council. She is characterized by her unwavering commitment to advancing literacy and ensuring that libraries remain vibrant hubs of intellectual freedom. Michelle has a strong commitment to fostering open dialogue and diverse perspectives. Possessing a keen intellect and a resolute spirit, Michelle Arbuckle transcends the conventional role of a nonprofit director. She embodies the essence of a pioneering force, tirelessly championing the rights of individuals to explore, learn, and engage in the pursuit of knowledge with unabated fervor.

Brendan de Caires is Executive Director of PEN Canada, a nonprofit that promotes literature, defends freedom of expression and helps exiled writers to establish new lives in Canada. De Caires has headed PEN Canada’s programs and special projects for a decade, editing and co-authoring country studies of Mexico, Honduras, India and Guatemala. In 2013, following the publication of Honduras: Journalism in the Shadow of Impunity, he joined a PEN delegation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington D.C. for a special session on impunity in Honduras. In 2017, after collaborating on PEN International’s Universal Periodic Review of freedom of expression in Guatemala, he coordinated a week-long security training workshop for 16 indigenous female journalists in Guatemala City.  Born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana, de Caires attended Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and read English Language & Literature at the University of Oxford. He has worked as an editor in newspaper, trade and magazine publishing, and as a book reviewer for publications in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. In 2009 he was a regional judge for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.

Author Robin Stevenson is an award-winning Canadian author of more than thirty books for kids and teens who has been personally affected by book challenges. Her books include Kid Activists, Record Breaker and My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights. Her books have won the Silver Birch Award, the Sheila A. Egoff award and a Stonewall Honor, and been finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Lambda Literary Awards, and many reader’s choice awards. Robin was the Book and Periodical Council of Canada’s Champion of Free Expression for 2022. In 2023, she was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. Robin is represented by Eric Smith at PS Literary Agency. She lives on the west coast of Canada with her family.

The discussion will be moderated by librarian Joseph Hafner, Associate Dean, Collections at the McGill Libraries.