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Circle of Understanding

I had the great honour to present at an event honouring survivors from the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School this month at the University of New Brunswick. CBC did a piece on the event:


Chris Benjamin on Indian School Road

Here’s a video of a talk by Chris Benjamin on the long road from getting bad advice from a guidance counsellor, through the St. Lucian rainforest, around Ghana and to becoming a journalist and author, most recently researching and writing Indian School Road:

Colette Urban: Jan 29, 1952 – June 16, 2013

Last week I saw on my Facebook wall that it was Colette Urban’s birthday. I wrote about Colette’s work, mostly in Newfoundland, as an inspiring, environmentally conscious artist, teacher, small-scale farmer and host of eco-tourists for my book, Eco-Innovators. But she wasn’t much of a Facebook user, so I was surprised, and very saddened, to find she’d died of cancer over a year ago. A great spirit, who had a profound impact on so many, was lost.

There’s a lovely Globe and Mail memorial piece about her, which is well worth a read. But I wanted to also share what I wrote about her in my book, about what pulled her to Newfoundland, perhaps the only province as wild as her. Here it is, with fond memories of hearing her tell the tale:

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Becoming Fierce Author Panel

Sat Jan 31, 2:00 pm

At the new Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Road)

Authors Chris Benjamin and Jo Treggiari will talk about the peaks and valleys of writing about your own angst and woeful youth, like they each did for the Becoming Fierce anthology (one of Quill & Quire’s books of the year).



Jo wrote a powerful story called “Love You Like Suicide.” Chris wrote about a time of profound change and learning in his life, when he was privileged to live briefly in St. Lucia. His story is called “Cuisve.”

Alistair MacLeod Tribute

Join us for a reading by Nova Scotia writers from the works of one of Canada’s most beloved authors, Alistair MacLeod, on Fri Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 pm, at the St. Mary’s Atrium (5940 Inglis St.), Room 101 in Halifax.

Alistair MacLeod readingReaders include Brian Bartlett, Chris Benjamin, Carol Bruneau, Alice Burdick, Ian Colford, Valerie Compton, Deirdre Dwyer, Sheree Fitch, Lorri Nelson Glenn, Cory Lavender, Linda Little, Leo McKay, Marjorie Simmins, Silver Donald Cameron, and Carole Langille.


Fish farming into the future

This article originally appeared in Saltscapes Magazine‘s Summer 2014 issue.

by Chris Benjamin

I reach Red Bank Road in Hants County, NS after a blue-sky drive through sparkling frozen mudflats in high-tide country. I see a sign that says “Sustainable Fish Farming Canada.” Sustainable Blue is the company’s brand name.

The operation is 500 metres from the Bay of Fundy, near Centre Burlington. This June, its operators had hoped to sell the first Read more

Chris Benjamin’s Favourite 2014 Reads

As has become an annual tradition, here are the books I most enjoyed reading in 2014 [Click on the image to visit the book’s goodreads page]:


Driven: How the Bathurst Tragedy Ignited a Crusade for Change by Richard Foot – A magazine assigned me this book to review. I’d never have read it otherwise. To my surprise it was really well written, touching and informative. It had many insights about the nature of social change and how different people respond to tragedy. If I weren’t a parent I might not have found it so powerful.

river thieves
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Weather Seals

“Seals Dive Deep for Ocean Data” is a quirky but important story by environment writer Chris Benjamin, commissioned by Science Friday, with major impact on our understanding of climate change. For that we should all be thanking seals, especially elephant seals, for their recent contributions to oceanographic science. They are providing the best available data from extreme ocean latitudes.

Wait, seals?! Why? How!?

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“Trying to pass a tape measure under a two-ton giant sausage is not entirely straightforward,” says Fedak, who’s based at the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
The seals are members of a growing pinniped squadron, numbering in the hundreds, that researchers have flagged over the past 10 years with tags designed by the Seal Mammal Research Unit and tailored to gather details on ocean conductivity, temperature, and depth, collectively called “CTD profiles.”
You can read the whole story, and see some fabulous images provided by marine biologist Mike Fedak, over at the Science Friday blog.

‘Building Character and Theme’

‘Building Character and Theme’ Workshop – Westville Public Library

2042 Queen Street

Tuesday, December 2, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Reserve your spot by calling 902-396-5022

Can great literature be political? Actually, it always is because great literature always has an impact beyond the specific story it reveals. It universalizes itself into a potent theme. The key to making your story memorable is the development of unforgettable characters.

Join Pictou-Antigonish Writer-in-Residence Chris Benjamin for a 90-minute workshop on how to develop characters who advance whatever theme you want to work with.

Theme (be it spiritual, philosophical, political, introspective) = Character, because the political is personal. Your characters – the things they believe, say and do (and the ways these things are inconsistent) – will determine your theme, the message or central idea readers take from your work.

canada reads top 40

Author Chris Benjamin’s first novel, Drive-by Saviours, won the H.R. Percy Prize, was longlisted for a ReLit Prize and made the Canada Reads Top Essential Books List.

Chris has also published more than a dozen short stories in literary journals, magazines and anthologies (published by the likes of Descant, The Dalhousie Review, Nashwaak Review, Galleon, Roseway, Pottersfield Press, Voiceprint Canada, The Society, Rattling Books, Third Person Press, and Fierce Ink).


Multimedia Storytelling Workshop

New Glasgow Public Library (902-752-8233).

Tuesday, November 25, 6:00pm – 7:30pm.

As writers we love reading, but print is only one way to share story. This session will explore how stories can transcend media, but also how each medium shapes story, and how as storytellers we can adapt our tales for maximum impact and reach.

Kevin & Chris

Facilitated by Writer-in-Residence and author Chris Benjamin, with special guest filmmaker Kevin Moynihan. Chris and Kevin worked together on a series of short video’s based on Chris’ award-winning book, Eco Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada.