Borderlines Writers Circle

Borderlines Writers Circle

The Borderlines Writers Circle is an intercultural initiative which aims to serve multilingual, multicultural writers who live in Edmonton. The program is designed to yield new literary works in English, thoughtful exploration of the Immigrant experience, dialogue that celebrates our diversity and contributes to a deeper understanding of one another, and engagement with contemporary issues around the world. Throughout the program writers produce literature in English, participate in workshops, and share their experience and creative works through public events, class visits, and podcasts.

I am particularly attracted to its mentoring program… The writer's community and the mentorship are not usually available to people who write in English as a second language. The Borderlines Writers Circle is therefore a great facilitator for the productivity of ESL writers. In addition, I see the Borderlines Writers Circle as a great contribution to the literary and cultural diversity of Alberta and Canada.”

—Leilei Chen, 2017

The program was great. It provided lots of great opportunities, valuable insight and lots of useful information. I particularly enjoyed the mentorship part as I feel I gained a lot from it, and it exceeded my (quite high) expectations. Frequency of the meetings was perfect; podcasts were a lot of fun. Speaking at the U of A class was also a fun experience. Overall—I'm very happy I got to be part of this program. I really appreciate everything I got from it and really hope to give something back to the community from the knowledge and experienced that I gained.”


About Borderlines


A significant aim of the program is to introduce the participants to the local writing community. To this end, participants are paired with a local writer for friendship and mentorship, and opportunities to publicly showcase participants' writing are planned in collaboration with organizations such as Litfest and Edmonton Public Library. A second aim of the program is to provide a space for the participants to explore and discuss issues unique to their experience as literary artists in an adopted culture and language. In addition to meeting with mentors, participants meet, on average, once a month for workshops, group critique or to address other needs of the group.

Application/Selection Process

The call for applications goes out in June, interviews are held in July, with a program start the following September. Applicants must have a portfolio of writing, a current writing project, and are newcomers to the Canadian writing community or have faced cultural and/or linguistic barriers to becoming part of it. An applicant must be a Canadian citizen, refugee or landed immigrant, living in or around Edmonton. The program accepts six applicants.

Length of Program

The program runs from September to March. 


The mentorship portion of the program attempts to meet the unique needs of individual participants. Mentorship may involve having conversations about literature over coffee, reading and editing work the participant has translated into English, reading and making suggestions on work written in English, or introducing the participant to specialized communities such as playwriting circles, poetry or prose reading series, etc.  Mentors commit to 15 hours of paid work. A call for mentor applications goes out in May.

2017 Participants

Meet the participants for the 2017 Borderlines Writers Circle!

Click on a tab to view participants and mentors.


Mila Philipzig was born in Manila, Philippines and arrived in Edmonton in 1984 with a grant for graduate studies at the University of Alberta. After completing her Master’s, she moved to Germany on a scholarship towards a PhD. In Munich, she met her husband and they have one son. Mila and family have lived in various places around the globe, preferring to be on the road experiencing various cultures and perspectives rather than being tied down with a mortgage. This changed in 2007 when they decided to call Edmonton home in order to provide a more predictable environment for their son, and to enable him to form long-term friendships. Mila works at Stantec and is active in the community. In 2016, she published two bi-lingual children’s books (Pilipino and English), both reflecting her interests in family, travel, multiculturalism, and diversity.

Mila is working on children’s fiction.

Tololwa Mollel writes books for children and adults in English and Swahili. He’s currently working on, among other writing projects, his memoirs: “Why We Have Two Ears and Only One Mouth”. Tololwa also writes stories that he performs solo interactively for all ages, or with co-performers as story-plays or plays. A May 25 – June 2, 2017 “Thousands Faces” Festival in Edmonton featured Tololwa’s latest story-play “Anthem of Life” with a performing ensemble that included a musician and a singer both of South Indian origin, himself, and other performers. Recently for a project to honor Canada 150, Tololwa edited the E-book: HOME: Stories Connecting Us All

Leilei Chen is an academic, a writer, and a translator. She is the author of Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding, which was nominated for the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize and the Wilfrid Eggelston Award for Nonfiction in 2017. She translated Steven Grosby’s Nationalism: A Very Short Introduction and published its Chinese version with Yilin Press in China in 2017. She teaches English literature, Writing Studies, and Chinese-English translation at the University of Alberta, and is working on the Chinese version of Re-Orienting China to be published by East China Normal University Press in Shanghai in 2019. Leilei is working on travel writing/memoir.



Ruth DyckFehderau teaches Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Alberta for a few months of each year and the rest of the time she travels and writes. Her work has been published in literary journals and anthologies around the world, and she has won awards for writing, teaching, and activism.  The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree, a book she wrote with 27 Cree storytellers, is available here and on, and a novel she wrote is represented by The Rights Factory. She is currently working on a second novel and on a second nonfiction book with the James Bay Cree of Northern QC. She is based in Edmonton, AB.

Lisa Dublin is from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. She moved to Edmonton with her family in 2013. She has always loved writing, poetry, and performance poetry and has won a few competitions along the way. She holds an MBA from the Australian Institute of Business, and most recently an MA in English from the University of Alberta. She has been a lecturer, a TV presenter/producer and business owner. She published her first chapbook called Sani Baat – A Voice Throwing, in 2012. She’s come to the conclusion that she doesn’t have very much to say about a lot of things, or it might be that she has things to say about just a few themes: faith, family, race, the human capacity to overcome, and people in the workplace. Lisa is working on fiction.


Myrl Coulter is the author of three published books, most recently The Left-Handed Dinner Party and Other Stories (U of Alberta Press 2017). Her second book, A Year of Days (U of Alberta Press 2015), is a collection of personal essays that won an IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) bronze medal for 2016 and was a Foreword Review 2016 INDIEFAB finalist. Myrl’s first book, The House with the Broken Two: A Birthmother Remembers (Anvil Press 2011), won the 2010 First Book Competition sponsored by the Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University and the 2011 Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta award. Myrl’s work has been published in Geist, WestWord, Avenue Magazine, and several anthologies. She lives in Edmonton.

Luciana Erregue-Sacchi is a Canadian-Argentinian bilingual poet. She holds a Master’s in Art History from the University of Alberta (2016). Luciana’s areas of interest include the politics of canon formation, official portraiture of the Americas, the politics of museum display, and performances of spectatorship. Prior to her graduate work, Luciana studied Law in her native Argentina and was a bilingual art educator at the AGA between the years 2004-2005 and 2010-2012. Her published poems include My Prisons/Mis Prisiones (The Polyglot) and The Embroiderer from Harrods, Argentina/La bordadora de Harrods, Argentina (La Rabia del Axolotl). Her poetry addresses the connection between art and memory. Luciana is working on a multidisciplinary poetry project.



Anna Marie Sewell is a multidisciplinary artist, specialising in poetry; within poetry, she specialises in performance, informed by her background in theatre, love of song, and flare for improvisation. She has presented her work across Canada and internationally, and served as Edmonton's Poet Laureate from 2011 - 13.  Being of Mi'gmaq/Anishinabe/Polish descent, she is fascinated by cross-cultural exchange: at present, she serves as Story Support consultant for Ancestors&Elders, a dance theatre work exploring Ukrainian/Indigenous connections on the prairies, in production by Shumka Dance for an April, 2018 debut; as a mentor for the Writers' Guild of Alberta's Borderlines program; and as a freelance collaborator with various individuals and groups. Anna Marie has been an Instructor for YouthWrite for over 20 years. She spent 6 years facilitating an Adult Literacy writers' circle. She's taught ESL in Japan, Mexico and Canada, and currently serves on the editorial board of The Writers' Union of Canada. Her own writing can be found on, in assorted essay, play and poetry anthologies, and in her poetry collections, Fifth World Drum (Frontenac Press, 2009) and the forthcoming Songs for the Changing Moon (Thistledown Press, 2018).

Shimelis Gebremichael moved to Canada about four years ago. Shimelis is originally from Ethiopia where he practiced journalism in both print and electronic mediums. He is currently a Master of Arts in Communications and Technology (MACT) prospective graduate at the University of Alberta.  He also did his MA in Journalism and Communications and BA in Foreign Language and Literature (majoring in English) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Over the last four years, he volunteered for CJSR, Centre for Family Literacy, and his church in Edmonton. He is passionate about making a difference in the community through his literary works (poems, prose and other forms). He also aspires to continue his journalism career in both English and Amharic languages.  Shimelis is married and blessed with two beautiful kids.

Shimelis is working on memoir.

Although born in South Africa, Jannie Edwards is strongly rooted in Edmonton and the prairies. She has published three books of poetry: The Possibilities of Thirst (1997), Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems (2006), in collaboration with visual artist Paul Saturley, and Falling Blues (2010), a finalist for the Writers' Guild of Alberta poetry prize. Her essay "All Night Mirror: Notes toward an Elegy" won the 2012 Writers' Guild of Alberta award for creative non-fiction. She taught creative writing, composition and literature for over 25 years at MacEwan College, (now University). She was the 2011-12 Canadian Authors Association Writer in Residence for Edmonton and Northern Alberta.

Jannie is drawn to artistic collaborations and has worked with visual artist Darci Mallon, Deaf artist Linda Cundy, dramaturge Mark Henderson and choreographer Kathy Ochoa. She collaborated on a video-poetry installation with visual artist Agnieszka Matejko and videographer Bob Lysay, and has organized many other literary arts events in her community of Mill Woods. Her most recent collaboration is with visual artist Agnieszka Matejko on three projects to sandblast short poems by community members into neighbourhood sidewalks.

(Ja)nine Muster was the child who hid behind a book while the other kids were playing during lunch break at school. Although she has not yet become the next famous author, the Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ), a daily print newspaper in Germany, was quite happy with her regular contributions on inspiring locals, concerts and theatre productions, reportages, and travelogues. Once she finally discovered the internet, she produced online content for Eisbär Media GmbH, a web developer in Leipzig. Being passionate about humans’ production of and interaction with their spaces, Nine (pronounced like Nina) moved to Edmonton and recently completed her Master of Arts degree in Sociology at the University of Alberta. Nine cares about language, gets excited when sentences flow smoothly into one another, and is passionate about the Oxford comma. Her biggest dream is to become an author Henry Miller would want to read.

Nine is working on fiction.

Jasmina Odor is a Croatian-born Canadian writer, and the author of the short story collection You Can’t Stay Here (Thistledown Press, 2017). Her fiction and reviews have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, including The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, Eighteen Bridges, and PRISM international. Her fiction has won the Howard O’Hagan award and been nominated for the Journey Prize and the CBC Short Story award, among others. She lives in Edmonton, where she also teaches English and writing at Concordia University of Edmonton.


The Borderlines Writers Circle is supported by Edmonton Arts Council.