ABC Life Literacy Canada together with Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life unveil new Life Literacy Innovation Award

New corporate support for community literacy innovation, Life Literacy awards ceremony and debut of new celebrity ambassador program highlights banner evening for adult literacy in Canada

TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2011 /CNW/ - The unveiling of a new award promoting literacy innovation was among the highlights of Life Literacy Night, ABC Life Literacy Canada's annual awards ceremony held this evening at Toronto's Gardiner Museum.

The Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award honours unique and innovative adult or adult-integrated family literacy programming in communities across Canada.

"We are delighted that Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life have again stepped forward to support literacy programs across Canada," commented Margaret Eaton, ABC Life Literacy Canada president.  "Providing Canadians with access to free literacy programs is a great way to ensure that we are collectively raising the literacy levels and skills of the nation.  The monetary support will help build capacity for grassroots literacy organizations in Canada."

In addition to the top award of $20,000, up to four other submissions may be selected to receive $5,000 each.  Information on the award, along with the online submission form, can be found at  Submissions are being accepted until June 1, 2012. The inaugural award recipient will be announced during next year's Life Literacy Month in September.

"We established this award with ABC Life Literacy Canada to honour literacy organizations for their best practices and to further encourage them by helping them share their innovations," said Jan Belanger, Assistant Vice-President, Community Affairs, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life. "We're pleased our support helps highlight the work of people and organizations fostering greater literacy in communities across Canada."

The celebratory mood of the event was further extended as ABC Life Literacy Canada presented three national literacy awards and unveiled a new Life Literacy Ambassadors initiative.

Jeannie Spence was awarded the Dr. Alan Middleton Workplace Literacy and Learning Award for her tireless efforts in workplace literacy at the Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver.

The Peter Gzowski Life Literacy Fellowship was presented to Valerie Mutton whose feature story proposal intends to examine low levels of literacy in the family court system and people self-representing themselves in cases without lawyers to fight their own legal battles.

Canadian music legends Barenaked Ladies were awarded the The Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C. Literacy Public Awareness Award for the exceptional contributions to literacy in Canada.

Celebrity emcee Erica Ehm, publisher of, helped announce ABC Life Literacy Canada's new Life Literacy Ambassadors initiative.  Life Literacy Ambassadors is a new initiative convening high-profile individuals across entertainment, media, business and sports. Each ambassador has a deep and personal connection to literacy in their life and will share their stories to help promote adult literacy across Canada.

Life Literacy Ambassadors include:
Joy Fielding - one of Canada's most celebrated authors and a NY Times bestseller and Good Reads author.
Ken Georgetti - President, Canadian Labour Congress, the largest democratic and popular organization in Canada with over 3.2 million members.
Lesra Martin - Prominent Lawyer whose personal literacy journey was told through the 2003 Hollywood movie "The Hurricane" starring Denzel Washington.
Robert Munsch - most published writer in Canada and Honorary Chair of Family Literacy Day since 2003.
Jayson Myers - President & CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canada's largest industry and trade association.
Paul Rosen - Canadian Paralympic gold medalist and former World No. 1 sledge hockey goaltender.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade - Canadian financial literacy expert, author of Debt-Free Forever and TV star of Til Debt Do U$ Part and Princess.
The Honourable Michael Wilson - Chairman of Barclays Capital Canada Inc. and served as the Canadian Ambassador to the United States from 2006-2009.

Life Literacy Night 2011 was broadcast nationally on Life Literacy Live, ABC's online TV channel which can be seen here. For more information on the 2011 Life Literacy award recipients, along with more information about Life Literacy Ambassadors, please visit

About ABC Life Literacy Canada:
ABC Life Literacy Canada is a non-profit organization that inspires Canadians to increase their literacy skills.  ABC Life Literacy Canada envisions a Canada where everyone has the skills they need to live a fully engaged life. For the latest news and information on adult literacy please visit, or stay connected with us through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

SOURCE ABC Life Literacy Canada

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Ashley Tilley
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