Council of the Federation Announces Literacy Award Winners for 2009

    REGINA, Aug. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Premiers today announced the
recipients of the fifth annual Council of the Federation Literacy Award.
Presented in each province and territory, the award celebrates outstanding
achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy.
    The recipients of the 2009 Council of the Federation Literacy Award are:

    Ken Steele - Alberta
    Laurie Gould - British Columbia
    Donald Richard - Manitoba
    Karon Campbell Connors - New Brunswick
    Claudia Dubé - New Brunswick
    Marc Glassman - Newfoundland and Labrador
    Annie Whane - Northwest Territories
    Blaise Sullivan - Nova Scotia
    Quluaq Catherine Pilakapsi - Nunavut
    Jean Doull - Ontario
    Workplace Learning PEI Inc. - Prince Edward Island
    Francine Guindon - Québec
    Margaret Lipp - Saskatchewan
    Emma Sam - Yukon

    "On behalf of all Premiers, I congratulate these recipients of the fifth
annual Council of the Federation Literacy Award," said Brad Wall, Premier of
Saskatchewan and incoming Chair of the Council of the Federation. "Through
their tireless efforts and devotion to literacy, these individuals and
organizations play an important role in improving the lives of people in their
communities and throughout the country."
    The award recognizes the valuable contributions made by Canadians in the
field of literacy, including family, Aboriginal, health, workplace and
community literacy. It is presented to educators, volunteers, learners,
community organizations, non-governmental organizations and businesses in each
province and territory.
    Each recipient receives a certificate, signed by the Premier of their
province or territory, as well as a Council of the Federation Literacy Award
    Premiers created this award in 2004 to recognize the importance of
literacy as an essential building block for a vibrant society and economy.

    The Council of the Federation comprises all 13 provincial and territorial
Premiers. The Council enables Premiers to work collaboratively to strengthen
the Canadian federation by fostering a constructive relationship among the
provinces and territories, and with the federal government.
    To learn more, visit

                           BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

           2009 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipients

    Ken Steele - Alberta

    Mr. Steele left school in grade six and returned to learning in his
retirement. In 2005, at the age of 74, he began attending classes at The
Learning Centre Literacy Association in Edmonton. He is now a writer of short
stories and poetry. As an ambassador for The Learning Centre, he shares his
literacy journey with others. He was involved with the Northeast Edmonton
Literacy Network, a group of agencies working to create more literacy friendly
environments in the community. Mr. Steele's positive attitude, success,
openness and humility have increased understanding of the struggles of adults
with low literacy. His active encouragement of literacy learners has inspired

    Laurie Gould - British Columbia

    For almost 35 years, Laurie Gould has demonstrated her commitment to
literacy work. Soon after joining the Basic Education Department of Vancouver
Community College in 1974, Laurie became instrumental in the early design and
implementation of adult literacy programming. Since that time, she has served
on numerous provincial and pan-Canadian committees related to literacy;
designed innovative curriculum and assessment resources; created original
reading materials for the adult literacy learner; edited health and government
information for plain language; worked directly with scores of adult learners
in the classroom and in assessments; and generously shared her vast expertise
with colleagues throughout BC and Canada. In her 35th year working in the
field, Laurie continues to serve the literacy community with a strong sense of
commitment to both literacy learners and practitioners.

    Donald Richard - Manitoba

    Donald Richard is an adult learner and an inmate at the Winnipeg Remand
Centre. Mr. Richard dropped out of school at the age of 15 and although he
attempted to return to school several times, events in his life interfered and
he stopped attending. He felt that he had missed his opportunity. In July 2008
he joined the John Howard Society Literacy Program that helps inmates in the
Remand Centre improve their literacy skills and upgrade their education. He
has moved from basic literacy to planning the steps to finish grade 12. Mr.
Richard is known as the 'go-to-guy' on his unit for anything related to
literacy. In addition to helping other inmates with their homework, he helps
the teacher with marking. He is trusted and respected in the institution. Mr.
Richard is now using his skills in a project to make the program more
accessible to those inmates with especially low literacy skills by rewriting
sections of the reading materials and contributing artwork. He is also writing
and illustrating an interactive children's book that incorporates camping and
counting. To quote Mr. Richard "I have rediscovered a love for reading. I'm
learning new ways to describe things and as a result I'm learning new ways to
appreciate things."

    Karon Campbell Connors - New Brunswick

    Since 2005, Karon Campbell Connors has been an adult literacy teacher at
Moncton Headstart's community-based adult literacy program where most learners
are single parents working toward General Educational Development (GED)
Certificates. Karon's gift of building relationships has made her a magnet for
learners wanting to increase their academic credentials. She says that the
greatest difference she can make for learners is to instil in them a belief in
their own success. She leads a learner-centred program, and assists learners
in accessing the social services they need in order to be successful learners.
This past year, Karon has been part of a provincial academic curriculum
committee set up to standardize program intake and exit assessment tools,
curricula and resources. She has also served as a mentor to a new adult
literacy teacher. Karon finds the work she does to help others a source of
great satisfaction.

    Claudia Dubé - New Brunswick

    Claudia Dubé deserves our gratitude for her commitment and her
exceptional dedication to the cause of adult literacy. She started as a
remedial instructor for the Community College Network and then became involved
in literacy. For several years, she pursued her training while still working.
In 1999, she obtained her certificate in Adult Literacy and in 2008, qualified
for teaching Essential Skills for the Labour Market. In 2006 she received an
Award for Excellence from Bernard Lord, then Premier of New Brunswick, for her
exceptional commitment. Beyond these honours, Claudia Dubé is only interested
in seeing her learners succeed.

    Marc Glassman - Newfoundland and Labrador

    For the past 32 years, Dr. Marc Glassman's knowledge, passion and
commitment to the literacy movement in Newfoundland and Labrador has been
far-reaching and significant. Dr. Glassman is a member of the Faculty of
Education at Memorial University and instructs in the area of literacy
education. He has undertaken a number of special initiatives in the community
that have helped a diverse group of children, parents, and low-literacy adults
overcome the barriers to language and literacy development. He has inspired
and challenged his undergraduate and graduate students, and he has provided
professional support to teachers in the K-12 classroom and to instructors and
volunteers in adult literacy programs throughout the province. He has been a
pioneer in the area of applying technology to the development of literacy in
Newfoundland and Labrador and continues to be innovative and creative in
advocating for literacy.

    Annie Whane - Northwest Territories

    Annie Whane displays a high degree of integrity, creativity and ambition
as a student with the Literacy Outreach Centre in Yellowknife. Annie has taken
on the role of an aspiring author by regularly writing poems, short stories
and song lyrics. Annie takes inspiration from her own life as a young adult
and shares her journey in humorous and touching ways with her peers. She is
cheerful, friendly, vibrant and helpful towards her classmates, enhancing the
milieu of the classroom. Annie is involved with community support agencies
where she assists others in the community who are experiencing similar
hurdles. She never fails to offer encouragement and support to those around
her both in the classroom and in the community.

    Blaise Sullivan - Nova Scotia

    Blaise Sullivan is a successful business man who preferred to keep his
struggles with literacy secret. In January 2006 when he walked through the
doors of his local community literacy organization, Antigonish County Adult
Learning Association (ACALA), he asked that his attendance be kept
confidential. Mr. Sullivan always struggled at school. Years later he learned
he had dyslexia. After leaving school at the age of 15 to work, he was often
under qualified for jobs: "There were many jobs I would have liked to apply
for but for the fear I would have to read something...It made me feel stupid
and embarrassed." The past coordinator for ACALA remembers Blaise starting out
with sessions once a week, but then coming three times a week, his one-on-one
sessions becoming adult learning group programs, and privacy turning into
Blaise championing the literacy cause through public presentations. He is also
working diligently towards completing his GED.

    Quluaq Catherine Pilakapsi - Nunavut

    Quluaq is a respected Elder and educator. Her creative approaches to
literacy and language development are recognized across Nunavut. She has
created numerous resources that are imaginative and fun for children and
adults. The Storysacks program, for example, combines doll-making with
storytelling as a means to share literacy. Quluaq has inspired people to
create their own Storysacks, supporting their efforts to encourage Inuit
language and literacy development. Quluaq took the lead conducting
community-based research to gain a better understanding of the links between
language acquisition and literacy skill development. She incorporated this
research into workshops. As one participant said, "... Quluaq being there
means a lot to me. I can speak to her in Inuktitut. She advises me and I can
call her up."

    Jean Doull - Ontario

    Ms. Doull has been an active and dedicated member of the literacy and
adult learning community in the Sarnia Lambton area for more than 25 years.
Most recently, Ms. Doull retired from the post of Executive Director of
Organization for Literacy, after having contributed close to 20 years to the
organization, with half that time spent at the helm. Ms. Doull began her
career at the grassroots level, when programming for adults did not exist in
Sarnia Lambton. She spent countless hours drafting proposals and battled
fiercely to bring funding and awareness to marginalized and isolated people in
need of language and basic skills training. She paved the way for improved
access and visibility for clients in the penal system and those living in
remote communities, and to this day, has never relented in making
contributions toward achieving literacy goals.

    Workplace Learning PEI Inc - Prince Edward Island

    Workplace Learning PEI Inc. (WLPEI Inc.) is a not for profit partnership
of business, labour, government and community that ensures learning
opportunities for the workforce and workplace. Changes in the workplace affect
the way work is done and the skills required to do that work. To meet those
demands employers and employees need opportunities to learn. Founded in 1997
as Workplace Education PEI and incorporated in 2007 as Workplace Learning PEI
Inc., hundreds of employed Islanders have enjoyed great success in learning
programs facilitated by the dedicated staff of WLPEI Inc., who are experts in
the field of literacy and essential skills. Numerous Island businesses that
have received assistance from WLPEI Inc. have been recognized over the years
by the Conference Board of Canada for excellence in workplace education

    Francine Guindon - Québec

    Francine Guindon was born into a family of 16 children in Hull, Québec.
Having had three children at the age of 19, she dropped out of school and was
forced to work unstable jobs. As her children started going to school, she
found it more and more difficult to help them with their school work. As she
says: "they tried to pass their knowledge on to me. It was the world upside
down!" At the age of 36, she enrolled in Ottawa's Basic Education Centre and
learned again to read and write while regaining her self-confidence. Today,
she is a member of the Board of Directors at the Centre where she represents
the adult learners. "I try and motivate them and invite them to share their
worries, their needs and their dreams."

    Margaret Lipp - Saskatchewan

    Dr. Margaret Lipp is an accomplished Saskatchewan educator, administrator
and literacy advocate, whose career in education and literacy has spanned
nearly four decades. Acknowledged for her visionary leadership in curriculum
innovation, Dr. Lipp has made a positive and enduring contribution to the
advancement of school based literacy education in Saskatchewan. In 2005, Dr.
Lipp was appointed Literacy Commissioner, and under her leadership, new
initiatives to expand family, workplace and community literacy initiatives
were introduced. Dr. Lipp has served on provincial and national organizations
and contributed as a presenter and participant at provincial, national and
international education conferences and Pan-Canadian literacy meetings and
forums. Currently retired, Dr. Lipp maintains her involvement in literacy
through her continuing role as a board member of the National Adult Literacy

    Emma Sam - Yukon

    Emma Sam was born to David and Rosie Johnston of the Teslin Tlingit First
Nation and is of the Ishkhitaan clan whose crest is the Frog. Her Tlingit name
is Wakhsâni. Emma's first language is Tlingit. "I was born with it," she says.
When she went away to school in Carcross, she made a promise to herself that
she would not forget her own language as she learned to speak, read and write
in English. Over the years, Emma has taken on the role of mentor to many
students. One of her current students recently completed a master's degree in
education and Emma is proud to have assisted her with her thesis. As a
grandmother, Emma continues to practise her cultural traditions and pass them
on to her children and grandchildren. "I have fun teaching the language," says
Emma, adding that she continues today to "think in Tlingit".

For further information:

For further information: Ian Hanna, Communications Advisor, Office of
the Saskatchewan Premier, (306) 787-2127,; Loretta
O'Connor, Executive Director, Council of the Federation Secretariat, (613)

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