A new B.C.-based, twice-monthly women’s event puts together special guest panelists, Laughter Yoga, door prizes and a moment to celebrate the week’s achievements—even if that’s just getting a decent night’s sleep.

YakFest bills itself as “part book club, part girls’ night out, all awesome.”

The next virtual YakFest takes place Monday, February 15 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Sign up on Eventbrite and a Zoom link will be emailed to you with your confirmation.

• Nanaimo mystery writer Ardelle Holden will be the first guest. Holden’s mystery books include Person of Interest and Murder by Bits & Bytes. The doorprizes for the night will include two of her latest books.

• Sonnet L’Abbé lives in the Nanaimo area. She is a Canadian poet, editor, professor, critic and songwriter. She holds a PhD in English literature from University of British Columbia, and she writes about national identity, race, gender and language. She teaches at Vancouver Island University, she is the author of Sonnet’s Shakespeare and other works, and she will sing a piece about growing up Black in Nanaimo.

• Andree Bizier, bookseller at Windowseat Books in Nanaimo, will bring a two-minute book review.

• Panelist Catherine Johnson lives in the Cowichan Valley. She is the author of a rare book, now out of print, called Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden: Creating Backyard & Balcony Habitats for Wildlife. She’ll share some gardening tips anybody can benefit from, and a signed copy of her book is one of the doorprizes for the evening.

• Lenore Hietkamp of Shawnigan Lake will be showing her pet portraits. Hietkamp is a prize-winning editor and the leader for the Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island. She is a member of Editors Canada, and she is a skilled portraitist whose sensitive, skilled portraits (including pet portraits) bring lives to canvas.

• The evening takes a very fun turn with Laughter Yoga with Ellen Everard. Ellen is a retired hospital administrator who lives on the Barkley Sound and in Port Alberni, B.C. She teaches the benefits of laughter and gives attendees some of the week’s best chuckles to improve circulation and radiate healthful positivity.

• Each event has its own Poet Laureate du Jour, and the series continues with Julie Ann Thomason, of Scotland.

• With the Cheering Section, one of YakFest’s Facebook Group editors, Janice Meeks of Abbotsford, brings a quick hoot out for the accomplishments, large and small, to celebrate a bit or a lot of progress.

Host Jacqueline Carmichael of Port Alberni is the author of Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front 1914-1918 (Heritage House November 2020), Tweets from the Trenches, and My Read-Aloud Tales of Social Distancing. A longtime journalist, publisher and event producer, she started the Amazing Strong Inspired project as a book project 13 years ago when she was interviewing amazing, strong, inspired women for publications like The Dallas Morning News, Smart Business, The Edmonton Sun and Entrepreneur Magazine.

In 2020, Carmichael was the organizer of the BC-Yukon Quite Determined Online Eco-Friendly Literary Road Trip that provided dozens of events for hundreds of participants in response to the pandemic. “I started YakFest in December 2020 in an effort to provide an outlet for women to connect and have fun, blow off a little steam,” she said.

ArtauthorPort Alberni

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