CNFC Board 2019-20

The Creative Nonfiction Collective Society was established in 2004 by a group of Canadian writers. Our purpose is to promote excellence in nonfiction writing through education, professional development, and public information.

Meet our 2019-20 Board of Directors

Cathy Cooper (president) spent her life as teacher/librarian, promoting reading and writing in elementary and secondary classrooms. In 2015, after her husband’s tragic and sudden death, she attended the Sage Hill Writing Experience. Her debut memoir, A Sum of Parts: A Widow’s Journey from Death to Life through Organ Donation, provides a first-hand account of her husband’s organ donation and the unexpected aftermath. A life-long learner, Cathy found herself thrown into the world of organ donation, unavoidably exploring the limits of her heart. Cathy lives and writes in Kingston, Ontario.

Christopher Moore (vice-president) is a long time member of CNFC, now on the second year of a term on the board. He is a past chair and honorary life member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, once for nonfiction, once for children’s literature. His books are almost exclusively in the field of Canadian history, but he subscribes to Betsy Warland’s dictum “creative nonfiction refers to all nonfiction and mixed-genre writing shaped by literary sensibilities, devices, and strategies.”

Ruby Remenda Swanson (treasurer) is the author of A Family Outing, a memoir about the experiences she’s had as a result of having a gay son. Ruby was born and raised in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and was General Manager of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden. She’s worked in public broadcasting at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and at the Children’s Television Workshop in New York City. She has travelled frequently to Ukraine as part of a Canadian Foreign Affairs deployment to monitor elections and for almost a decade taught English to many new immigrants to Canada. Ruby was recognized by the University of Alberta Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights for her work to promote the rights of the LGBTQ community across campus. Ruby lives in Edmonton with her husband.

S. Lesley Buxton (membership coordinator) is the author of the award-winning One Strong Girl: Surviving the unimaginable, a mother’s memoir. Her essays have appeared in Hazlitt, Today’s Parent, Still Standing, This Magazine, and in the Caitlin Press anthology Love Me True. An excerpt of One Strong Girl appeared in the March 2019 issue of Reader’s Digest. She has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Lissa Cowan (communications) is a writer of fiction and nonfiction and a teacher and story mentor at Good Stories Grow Here Writing Studio. In 2013 she published Milk Fever (Demeter Press, Toronto), a historical feminist suspense novel, and she has published Words That Walk in the Night (Vehicule Press, Montreal), a literary translation from French to English written by esteemed Quebec poet, Pierre Morency. She has received writing scholarships from the University of Victoria and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is currently working on Climate of the Heart, her first full-length creative nonfiction book.

Beth Kaplan (member at large), who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, is the author of three nonfiction books: a biography, a memoir, and a guide to writing memoir, which is the textbook for her courses. She has taught memoir and personal essay writing at Ryerson University for 25 years and also for 12 years at the University of Toronto, where in 2012 she was given an Excellence in Teaching award. She also works privately as an editor and writing coach. A former actress and a fellow of the Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism program, Beth produces So True, a curated reading series for her long-term students and herself, three times a year at the Black Swan in Toronto.

Elizabeth Johnston (member at large), author, professor, and story coach, is thrilled to join the CNFC board. She has a podcast, Own Your Creativity, where she interviews people about the importance of creativity in their lives. Elizabeth received a Canada Council for the Arts grant to research and write her nonfiction book, No Small Potatoes, and her video poem, “Keepsake,” was shortlisted for two film festival competitions. She was also the script consultant for two short films that premiered at the Cannes film festival. She wholeheartedly believes that, as George Eliot says, “It’s never too late to be who you were really meant to be.”

Shazia Hafiz Ramji (member at large) is the author of Port of Being, a finalist for the 2019 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She received the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and has been named as a writer to watch by the CBC. Her essays have recently appeared in Carte Blanche, Music & Literature, and Canadian Literature, and her poetry is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2019. She is at work on a novel that draws from life.