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Freedom to Read Week Marks 35th Anniversary

National event celebrates free expression, encourages discussion


“The freedom to read is important,” say Michelle Arbuckle and Marg Anne Morrison,

co-chairs of the Freedom of Expression Committee. “We encourage Canadians to celebrate their freedom to read and oppose censorship.”

Toronto, February 15, 2019—The Book and Periodical Council (BPC) and its Freedom of Expression Committee are pleased to announce the 35th annual Freedom to Read Week (FTRW) in Canada. A national celebration of freedom of expression that takes place in libraries, schools and arts venues across Canada, this year’s program runs from February 24 to March 2, 2019.

Despite having strong traditions of free expression and free inquiry, Canada also has a long-standing tradition of censorship. For the last 35 years, Freedom to Read Week has encouraged Canadians to be aware of ongoing threats and challenges to intellectual freedom and to maintain the open, creative environment in which everyone thrives, including authors and publishers. The freedom to read and write is crucial to the health of the literary arts in Canada, and every year FTRW brings to light how it can be, and often is, stifled.

Freedom to Read Week incorporates public readings, panel discussions, challenged book and magazine displays, and a resource guide for librarians and teachers. Events take place across the country in schools, libraries and community spaces from Victoria and Saint John to Spruce Grove and Teeswater and include banned-book clubs, trivia nights, theatrical performances, design contests and escape rooms.

Speakers include novelist Richard Van Camp, poet Marcus McCann, Toronto City Librarian Vickery Bowles, UCLA’s Dr. Safiya Noble, Indigenous literacy advocate Nancy Cooper as well as journalists, students, activists and readers. These activities promote public engagement in communities across the country. Highlights this year include the following:


  • The Edmonton Public Library will welcome Safiya Noble who will talk about her book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism on February 20.
  • The City of Toronto has proclaimed the week of February 24–March 2 Freedom to Read Week.
  • The Calgary Public Library will host the Calgary premiere of Three Feathers, the film adaption of Richard Van Camp’s novel, and a Q&A with the author, on February 24.
  • The Book and Periodical Council is hosting “On the Frontlines,” a panel discussion celebrating 35 years of Freedom to Read Week, at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto on Wednesday, February 27.
  • Franklin Carter has been named our 2019 Champion of Free Expression for his work on the BPC’s Freedom of Expression Committee.


A complete list of events across Canada is available at freedomtoread.ca; it will be updated as new events are confirmed. Event organizers are encouraged to share their plans with Freedom to Read Week organizers through the same web page.

About Freedom to Read Week
Freedom to Read Week is organized by the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee, a group committed to promoting intellectual freedom in Canada. Since 1978, the committee has worked with educators, librarians, publishers, writers, booksellers, advocacy groups and the community at large to provide information that addresses censorship and book and magazine challenges in Canada.


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. For more information, visit freedomtoread.ca.


About the Book and Periodical Council
The Book and Periodical Council (BPC) is the umbrella organization for Canadian associations that are or whose members are primarily involved with the writing, editing, translating, publishing, producing, distributing, lending, marketing, reading and selling of written words.


Media inquiries: Dominique Bernier-Cormier: [email protected] | 416-975-9366
All other inquiries: [email protected] | 416-975-9366

For more information, visit thebpc.ca.