Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is an award-winning author and journalist, international development researcher/writer, and anthropologist. Her 2017 book, "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest," that delves into the suffering caused by the Pictou pulp mill in Nova Scotia and the enormous power it wielded over the province for more than half a century, won the 2018 Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, and was shortlisted for three other awards. It also topped the Nova Scotia Chapters Indigo bestseller list for three months.

The same year saw the publication of "Seven Grains of Paradise - A Culinary Journey in Africa," which tells the fascinating story of many kinds of food in Africa, a continent with rich farming traditions, intricate cuisines, and a multitude of food cultures.

Her 2008 book, "Dust From Our Eyes - An Unblinkered Look at Africa," was shortlisted for the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in the United States, and re-published worldwide by Pambazuka Press / Fahamu Books in 2011.

Her best-selling book, "The Hermit of Gully Lake: The Life and Times of WIllard Kitchener MacDonald," was short-listed for the Booksellers' Choice Award at the 2006 Atlantic Book Awards.

Baxter's 2001 book, "A Serious Pair of Shoes: An African Journal," won the Evelyn Richardson Award for non-fiction at the 2001 Atlantic Writing Awards.

The late Peter Gzowski included her letters to CBC Morningside in his series of Morningside Letters books, and described Joan's first non-fiction work, Graveyard for Dreamers: One Woman's Odyssey in Africa, as "a magical book".

In addition to hundreds of news reports and features for BBC World Service, her short fiction has also been aired on this worldwide radio service in several languages. She has lived and worked in Mexico, Guatemala, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Sierra Leone, and is multi-lingual. For nearly three decades Joan lived with her family in Africa, reporting for the BBC World Service, CBC Radio and the Associated Press.

These days she is a regular contributor to the Halifax Examiner, where she continues to follow the evolving and controversial story of the pulp mill and its owners, and investigate a raft of other issues relating to neoliberalism and corporate capture, extractive industries, social and environmental justice, and the climate crisis.

Her writing has also appeared in The Energy Mix, the National Observer, Narwhal, Le Monde Diplomatique, Al Jazeera, The Toronto Star, Pambazuka News, The Globe and Mail, and The Chronicle Herald, The Coast (Halifax).

She also worked as a Senior Science Writer at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya and as a Communications Coordinator in Kenya for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Baxter also served as Executive Director for the international non-governmental organization, the Nova Scotia - Gambia Association, working in The Gambia and Sierra Leone on development education for youth and marginalized groups. While there, she produced two films showing positive images and messages from West Africa. For six years she served as a member of the Board of Directors for the international NGO, USC Canada, now SeedChange.

She is a Senior Research Fellow with the Oakland Institute, a leading policy think tank, for which she  researched and authored two in-depth reports on how foreign investors are grabbing up farmland in Mali and Sierra Leone, and putting local farmers, resources and livelihoods at enormous risk. Over the years she has met, interviewed and profiled a host of African presidents, dignitaries, writers, intellectuals, thinkers and artists, including the late and much-loved President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, the late great Miriam Makeba of South Africa and Ali Farka Toure of Mali, the sensational Malian duo Amadou & Mariam, the late Francis Bebey of Cameroon, and many more.

City: , Province/Territory: Nova Scotia
Presentation details
Audience Size
Audience size
Presentation Genre
non-fiction writing, investigation and reporting
Presentation Length
30 minutes
Presentation Description
Presentation description

depends on requests and specific interests of organizers

Presentation Fee(s)
depends also on organizers' status and travel time
Workshop details
Audience Size
10 - 15
Intended Audience
adult writers / journalists / students
Workshop Length
depends on organizers' requirements and preferences
Workshop Description
Workshop description

investigative research for non-fiction writing and journalism

Workshop Fee(s)
depends on organizers' capacity
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