FRANKFURT, Germany, October 24, 2021
Today, Canada concludes its unprecedented two years as the Guest of Honour Country at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Participating in the ceremonial handover of the Guest of Honour scroll, Canadian representatives exchanged the Frankfurt Book Fair scroll with representatives from the incoming Guest of Honour country, Spain. Canada was represented by Caroline Fortin, President of CanadaFBM2021, a consortium created by the Canadian Publishing Industry to plan and coordinate the literary program and the participation of Canadian publishers. Spain was represented by María José Gálvez, Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport, Director General of Books and Promotion of Reading.
The Handover Ceremony included a moderated discussion between two distinguished authors, Canadian Dany Laferrière and Spain’s Manuel Vilas. The pair discussed their books and created links between the two countries via common themes in the two authors’ writing. During the event, Canada thanked Spain, as well as the 2023 Guest of Honour Slovenia and the 2024 Guest of Honour Italy, for their support in extending Canada’s Guest of Honour year.
After facing the remarkable challenge of COVID-19 and extending the Guest of Honour duties from 2020 into 2021, Canadian creators rose to the occasion. This year brought with it a round of firsts, including the very first virtual Guest of Honour pavilion, which provided guests the opportunity to experience the Canada pavilion from the comfort of their own home. The piece complements the physical pavilion, designed to reflect the richness of Canada’s natural environment that serves as inspiration for our authors and illustrators. This interactive digital space used innovative features including touchless, interactive screens featuring Canadian creators, video conversations with the literary delegations, and a stage for live events and cultural performances. The Fair also served as the first official state visit by Her Excellency Mary Simon, the Governor General of Canada, who was delighted to speak at the Opening Ceremony on October 19.
Canada’s closes out its successful Guest of Honour presence with several highlights that showcased Canadian literary talent, arts, culture and landscapes throughout 2020–2021 around Europe. In total, 167 literary events with 160 creators and 219 cultural events featuring 417 artists were held in Germany and online, as well as across 50 different cities. With Canadian creators taking centre stage, interest in Canadian-produced content saw a rise. At more than 350 titles, the number of Canadian books translated into German surpassed expectations. In addition, 58 Canadian authors and illustrators participated virtually and in person at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Much of Canada’s programming is still available to view on the Canadafbm2021 website or on its YouTube page, including five author panels produced in collaboration with CBC/Radio-Canada:
Leading Ladies of Canadian Literature
Poetry on the Mainstage
Preserving and Protecting Languages and Culture
The Canadian Audacity of Children’s Literature
Forty-nine of Canada’s events and installations will continue into 2021 and 2022. While the official year may have concluded, we welcome visitors to continue to enjoy these projects and events occurring in and around Germany. More information can be found at canadafbm2021.com/event-calendar.
Canada is grateful to have been featured as Guest of Honour country and would like to thank the Frankfurter Buchemesse for inviting Canadian creators to participate. Canada’s Guest of Honour role is the result of a collaboration between Canadian Heritage, Global Affairs Canada, provincial and territorial governments, CBC/Radio-Canada, the National Gallery of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, the National Film Board, Destination Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada and Canada FBM2021. A number of other federal, provincial and territorial cultural organizations are also collaborators in this initiative.
“2020 certainly was a challenging year for the world, with the arts and culture sector being particularly hard hit. With a successful Frankfurt Book Fair behind us, Canadian authors, illustrators and creators can hit the ground running as they explore new business opportunities and marketplaces abroad. The world is hungry for Canadian content, and the relationships forged through this event will feed that hunger to an audience always searching for more.”
—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“As the Guest of Honour, Canada was at the center of the action at the 2021 Book Fair. Her Excellency the Right Honorable Mary May Simon, Governor General of Canada, was joined by a stellar group of authors and artists at the Opening and Canada Nights, and our pavilion welcomed thousands of visitors. Our publishing and creative industries received a tremendous international boost on which to build in the coming years.”
—H. E. Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Ambassador to Germany and Special Envoy to the European Union and Europe
“At the closing event of the Frankfurter Buchmesse in October 2019, I stated that Canada would surprise the international publishing community. Two years later, I can confidently say ‘mission accomplished’—and I’m not referring to the global pandemic that sprung on us and postponed our Guest of Honour plans by a year! Canada FBM2021 presented Canada’s Guest of Honour pavilion, and developed a virtual counterpart to complement it, the first of its kind in the history of the fair. Canada’s official literary delegation of authors and illustrators was showcased via virtual and interactive content and programming, as well as through live, on-stage performances and discussions. This widely accessible yet intimate literary experience has shined a light on the richness of Canadian literature and will no doubt have a long-term benefit on the Canadian publishing industry.”
—Caroline Fortin, President of Canada FBM2021
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage