Facilitated Retreats

Focus on Writing and Guidance

Facilitated Retreats are open to anyone living in Saskatchewan who likes to write. The retreat is designed as a time for participants to focus on their writing and to gain encouragement and motivation by interacting with the Writer-In-Residence and fellow participants. These retreats are intended as teaching situations, in which a Writer-in-Residence will offer guidance and advice to beginner or emerging writers. Facilitated retreats are offered each November at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, SK.

Writers of all genres are encouraged to apply. For writers wishing to attend the SWG Writers/Artists Retreats but who may not qualify or who feel they’d like a taste of a writing retreat first, the SWG recommends attending a facilitated retreat as an introduction.

Preference will be given to Saskatchewan-based SWG members who have not published a book and who have never attended any of the SWG retreats. This facilitated retreat is primarily a retreat for beginning and emerging writers and priority will be given to these writers. However, if there is space available, we will consider applications from more experienced writers, non-SK residents and non-SWG members. A maximum of ten participants are accepted.


What You Can Expect to Gain at a Facilitated Retreat

  • Learn about writing from an experience writer (the Writer in Residence) as well as your fellow retreatants
  • Have an experienced writer read, consider and discuss your writing with you
  • Opportunities to ask an experienced writer all of your writing questions
  • Meet other emerging writers from all over Saskatchewan and build a writing community
  • Share your work-in-progress in a supportive open mic event with other retreatants
  • Learn more about the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild and all we have to offer
  • Enjoy free writing time in a peaceful and inspiring setting
  • Get away from the demands of your day-to-day life to focus exclusively on your writing for three days!


2024 Facilitated Retreat dates:

  • Thursday April 18 to Sunday April 21 - St. Peter's Abbey, Abbey Guestwing - Applications are now CLOSED
  • Friday Nov 8 to Monday November 11 - St. Peter's Abbey, Lower Severin Hall


Gordon Portman will be the Writer in Residence for the April 2024 Facilitated Retreat.

Gordon has been a professional writer and teacher for more than thirty-five years. For much of that time, his work has primarily been associated with theatre; however, for the past fifteen+ years he has been a creative writing instructor / mentor at Brandon University, where he introduced students to a range of techniques associated with all four of the main writing disciplines – non-fiction, fiction, drama, and poetry. He is a recipient of several creation / production grants, was short-short listed for the CBC Literary Prize in non-fiction in 2011, and most recently has been published in the queerness-oriented anthology This Is Beyond.


His Thursday talk will be The Story in the Telling: Intersectionalities of Craft Across the Disciplines. 

Gordon explores how the basic tools of a writer's work - things like structure, voice and POV, character development, and imagery - can effectively and engagingly be deployed in non-fiction, fiction, drama, and poetry, all with the aim of transmuting inspiration into communication.


Retreat fees

The $350 retreat fee covers all consultation and classes with the Writer-in-Residence, private rooms and food for three days. 

Retreat Experience

Our Facilitated Retreat at St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster may be held in either the Abbey Guestwing or in Lower Severin Hall. In Lower Severin Hall, each retreatant stays in a private single bedroom, which includes a single bed, dresser, desk with chair and private ensuite bathroom (toilet, sink, shower). In the Abbey Guestwing, each retreatant stays in a private single bedroom, which includes a single bed, dresser, desk with chair and lamp, and sink with mirror. Shared washrooms with toilets and showers are down the hall. Bedding, towels, hand soap and pillows are provided, as are all meals (breakfast, lunch and supper) in the cafeteria. A large common area, including a shared kitchen with large dining table and lounge space, is available in both the Abbey Guestwing and Lower Severin Hall. Please note that both residences are accessed by stairs (elevator is available in the Abbey Guestwing). Wifi access is available. 

Retreatants have access to St. Peter's fitness facility, the College library as well as walking paths on the Abbey grounds.  Retreatants are served shared buffet meals in the dining hall based on a set menu. The kitchen will be informed of any food allergies or sensitivities, but please note that a completely gluten free or dairy free diet cannot be guaranteed.

Not all spaces at St. Peter's Abbey are wheelchair accessible; navigating stairs may be required. Applicants with mobility or accessibility needs, or severe food allergies or restrictions, are encouraged to speak to the Guild about how we can help make the retreat an enjoyable experience for you; some needs may not be able to be accommodated and may affect your acceptance or accommodation.

Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from the retreat, but carpooling may be arranged by communicating with fellow retreatants. There are no public transportation options to Muenster currently available.

Programming during the retreat includes your meeting with the Writer-in-Residence (WiR); retreatants will sign up for a meeting time after arriving at the retreat. Your writing sample and cover letter will be shared with the WIR prior to the retreat and will be the basis for your consultation during the retreat weekend. Other programming includes our Thursday evening talk by the WiR, Friday night socializing (optional) and Saturday open mic, as well as optional early morning writing prompts for interested writers. These activities will take place in the common lounge area.

More information will be shared with retreatants after their acceptance, or you can speak to the Guild Program Director at programs@skwriter.com if you have questions or concerns about your retreat experience.

Application Guidelines

Applicants must be 19 years of age or older and the application must include:

  1. The completed application form 
  2. A cover letter that states: 
  • your name, mailing and email address and primary phone number;
  • a paragraph describing the 10-page writing sample you are submitting to the WiR for consultation, including 1-2 sentence summary of the writing and a sentence about your goal for this writing;
  • up to 3 questions about the craft or business of writing you would like to discuss with the WiR;
  • a paragraph or two describing your writing experience;
  • a paragraph about why you wish to attend the Facilitated Retreat;
  • previous retreat stays, if any; and
  • the names and contact information for two references who are familiar with your writing and can attest to your ability to work independently.

    3. Writing sample, no more than 10 pages long, which is the basis of your consultation the Writer-in-Residence during the retreat. Please submit polished unpublished work on which you would like to receive feedback. Please ensure it is formatted following SWG guidelines:

  • submissions must be in English;
  • all material must be typed in body-text fonts like Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial;
  • font size should be 12 pt;
  • pages must include 1" margins;
  • pages should be numbered sequentially;
  • title and your name included in either header or footer;
  • prose should be double-spaced, poetry may be single-spaced; 
  • if you are submitting a poetry, please make sure each new poem starts on a new page (submit a maximum of 10 poems unless the poems are multi-page poems)
  • Word documents

    4. All submissions must be received through our online application process.

Application form

Applications are CLOSED

Apply Here.


  • There is no application fee for the Facilitated Retreat.
  • Payment is due two weeks after notification of acceptance to the facilitated retreat. We accept credit card, etransfer, or cheque payments.
  • Non-payment of fees will result in rejection of your application without exception. 
  • A non-refundable late fee of $35 will apply to all applications received after the application deadline, and will be payable at the time of application.
  • A late fee of $35 will apply to all payments outstanding as of two weeks prior to the start of the retreat.

Cancellation policy

Cancellation refunds will be processed as follows:

  • 21-30 days or more prior to start date: 100% of funds reimbursed.
  • 14-21 days prior to retreat start date: 50% of funds reimbursed.
  • 7-14 days prior to retreat start date: 25% of funds reimbursed.
  • 0-7 days prior to retreat start date: no fees reimbursed. 

Refunds for health or family emergency will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The SWG reserves the right to cancel a retreat if there is insufficient enrolment, in the event of unforeseen circumstances or a requirement to close by a government mandate. All retreat fees will be refunded. Please note the SWG is not liable for any personal/travel expenses.  

Selection criteria

  • Preference will be given to Saskatchewan-based SWG members who have not published a book and who have never attended any of the SWG retreats. This facilitated retreat is primarily a retreat for beginning and emerging writers and priority will be given to these writers. However, if there is space available, we will consider applications from more experienced writers, non-SK residents and non-SWG members.
  • Applicants who apply by the deadline will be given first consideration although, if there are spaces available, late applications will be considered up to two weeks prior to the beginning of the retreat.

Doris Hillis Scholarship

The Doris Hillis Scholarship provides one recipient with program fees for the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild’s Facilitated Retreat. The scholarship is intended for an emerging BIPOC Saskatchewan writer working on poetry or drama. Your application to this scholarship must be received at the same time as your application to attend the facilitated retreat.



Eligible recipients must meet the following criteria:

  • Self-identified BIPOC writer (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour)
  • Are a developing writer, defined as being in the early stages of their writing and has not yet published a book or equivalent
  • Have a poetry or drama project to work on at the Facilitated Retreat
  • Are a resident of Saskatchewan and have been for one year prior to the beginning of the retreat

The successful scholarship recipient must be accepted to the Facilitated Retreat. Previous recipients of the Scholarship, members of the selection committee, current employees or Board of the SWG are not eligible to be considered for this award.



Applicants will submit an application form with a 1-2 page letter, outlining their response to the following criteria:

  1. Writing experience, including:
    1. How long you have been writing
    2. Any professional development you have undertaken to date (which could include workshops, classes or degrees, immersive experiences like Sage Hill or Banff Centre, writing group membership, working with a mentor, editor or Writer-in-Residence, attending literary learning opportunities, etc.)
    3. Any publications or play productions, including the publications’ name and genre.
  2. Please explain why attending the Facilitated Retreat will benefit you as a writer
  3. Please explain if and how receiving this scholarship may reduce any barriers you may face in attending the Facilitated Retreat. This could include, but is not limited to, financial need.

Application Form

For more information, please contact:

Program Director
T: 306.791.7743 | E: programs@skwriter.com


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