Donna Besel – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #1

May 2012

The Winnipeg River Arts Council Inc. (WRAC) is a new regional organization, serving communities along the Winnipeg River corridor. First proposed in 2009, the concept grew into an non-profit board, incorporated in 2011, ready to deliver services and programming throughout Eastman. WRAC’s goals include: 1) supporting literary, visual, performing arts/artists 2) sharing regional resources, information, talents 3) connecting arts organizations, schools, recreation services 4) enhancing quality of life for residents and tourists 5) helping the region reap economic benefits of its diverse arts and culture. For more information, or to express your interest, please contact Don MacLellan, President at 367-2627/ or Donna Besel, Secretary at 345-8513/

To fulfill one of our stated goals, WRAC decided to focus on new members who are artists. Once a month, WRAC will submit a short article and the artist’s picture to help Winnipeg River communities learn more about arts practitioners in our midst. The first featured artist is Donna Besel, a writer from Lac du Bonnet.

Donna Besel

Donna Besel

Donna Besel writes fiction and nonfiction for various publications across Canada and her writing has accumulated numerous honours, including shortlist nominations for CBC’s 2009 Literary Awards and CBC’s “Canada Writes” 2007 competition. She leads writing workshops for all ages and has instructed groups on subjects such as art, music, outdoor activities, and trauma. She also works in the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program, teaching students across Manitoba about creative writing.

Donna Besel has lived in Lac du Bonnet, on the Winnipeg River, for over thirty-five years. In 2002, her story, “Dead Skunk,” won second place in Prairie Fire’s international competition. Since then, various arts organizations have awarded her scholarships and grants. After Prairie Fire, the well-known literary journal, published “Dead Skunk”‘ and the short story nominated for CBC’s Literary Awards, “Lessons From a Nude Man,” they invited her to read from both stories at MacNally Robinson Bookstore. She has done other public readings at schools and libraries, including Winnipeg’s Millenium Library. She also volunteers as a board member for the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

On May 10, she presented on a panel with two other rural writers as part of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild Symposium on Manitoba Writing, held at the Canadian Mennonite University, attended by writers and academics from across Canada and around the world. Their presentation was called “Writing from the Margins – Farm, Forest and Frontier.” On May 31, at 7:00 pm, she will read from her story “Sam, Lump, and the Boathouse Reno” at McNally Robinson Bookstore. Prairie Fire published this story in their latest issue, as part of their ongoing Boreality Project. This livley event will feature several well-known Canadian authors. Come out and support a hard-working Eastman writer.