WIC pairs small groups of at-risk youth (age 14 to 24) with a professional writer or literary performance artist to provide them with a positive role model who can teach them and, more importantly, motivate them, to use language to express themselves in productive ways.

In a series of workshops, usually on a weekly basis, the participants are exposed to literary activities that motivate and engage them, extend their appreciation of literary expression, produce tangible products, develop new skills, foster pride in their accomplishments, and connect them to the literary community.

These sessions have produced more than 40 zines, eight performance events, two sound recordings and a professionally made music video. We have seen participants in this program improve their skills in writing and using language, and gain appreciation of various literary genres. Most importantly, they learn to use the literary arts to gain control over their lives, and make better choices for their own futures.

  • We have offered writing workshops to aboriginal youth outside Montreal using video-teleconferencing.
  • One young woman who had dropped out of school was inspired by our workshops to re-enrol.
  • A teacher has reported improved attention span and desire to write among her class of learning-disabled students.
  • A teacher of troubled young women has reported generally improved behaviour in the classroom.
  • A residential unit for single teen mothers now uses written reflections as a way for the women to process their experiences and difficulties.
  • A former WIC participant has worked as an intern alongside our facilitators in two classrooms.
  • Three participants have had poetry published in the Montreal Review of Books.
  • One young woman enrolled in a creative writing program at CEGEP (community college)
  • One young woman went on to create poems for CBC Radio.
  • Two boys wrote and produced a hip hop video that received thousands of web hits and was the subject of a TV news report.

Image by Gillian Sze

Past and present partners include Mountainview High School, Dawson Alternative School, Vanguard Intercultural School, Elizabeth House, Ste Rose, BUMP, Val d’Or Community Learning Centre, O3 Les maisons transitionelles, Batshaw Youth and Family Services, LEARN Community Learning Centre Initiative, NDG Community Council, Jeunesse 2000, Head & Hands, Leave Out ViolencE, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, the Jewish General Hospital, and VOYCE (Voices Of Youth in Care).

We would also like to express our gratitude to the following sponsors, without whom the Writers in the Community program would not be possible: