The night started in high spirits as celebrity emcee Jennifer Valentyne – host of Citytv's Breakfast Television – discussed the importance of literacy in her life and shared that each morning her “Live Eye“ show presents the opportunity to learn something new.
Chris Stamper, Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing of TD Bank Group accepted The Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C. Literacy Public Awareness Award, for contributions and support of the literacy cause.
"We understand that the need for literacy doesn’t end in childhood. It is a life-long learning process, especially when it comes to financial literacy. As one of Canada’s leading financial institutions, we have a particular responsibility in helping Canadians gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to make responsible financial decisions,” said Stamper.
Next, the Dr. Alan Middleton Workplace Literacy and Learning Award was awarded to Sandi Howell, an adult educator, program developer, trainer and curriculum designer, who has shown outstanding commitment to workplace essential skills training as Manitoba’s Provincial Coordinator for Essential Skills. She helped establish the first Workplace Essential Skills Training centre in Manitoba and was recognized for her determination and commitment to advocating for literacy and essential skills for vulnerable populations.
"So why did we all do this?" said Howell. "We did it for the people. We did it to make their lives better. We did it to create opportunity, to remove barriers and to create choice. We all truly believe that literacy and essential skills are the foundation for success which leads to the workplace and as a path through many work choices – for all of us actually. We are dedicated to creating opportunities for people to gain these skills, including in the workplace. So the award is really a moment in time when we can stop and say – hey! - we’re getting somewhere!"
The third award of the night, the Peter Gzowski Life Literacy Fellowship, was given to Ottawa journalist Matthew Pearson for his proposal, “Left behind by the knowledge economy,” which will investigate how weak literacy skills are keeping unemployed manufacturing trades people from taking part in government retraining programs.
“I’m thrilled because it will provide an opportunity for me to examine the many ways literacy intersects with daily life and to profile some of the challenges faced by adults across the country for whom reading, writing and essential skills remain huge barriers in their home and working lives,” said Pearson.
Christina MacIsaac, Program Manager of Community Relations presented The Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award. This award recognizes a community organization that has developed, implemented and delivered an innovative literacy program that has made a tremendous impact in its community. The Top Award went to the Prince Albert Literacy Network for their Child Care Worker Preparation for Certification Program, along with a cash prize of $20,000 to help grow and support their innovative program.
“Organizations of all kinds, charitable and otherwise, are facing challenges in how best to allocate limited resources. We’re providing our support not only to reward literacy groups for their innovations and best practices, but also to help them share their unique approaches with other literacy groups across the country,” said MacIsaac.
Lifelong learning was the topic of the night, ending appropriately with ABC president Margaret Eaton challenging each guest to think of their own lifelong learning and to “create that learning culture in our own lives, and in our own workplaces.
“Proudly at the heart of our work is inspiring more Canadians to increase their literacy and essential skills. With our partners and our colleagues across the country, we can make a difference in the lives of Canadians. We can create a culture of lifelong learning-- one person at a time,” she said.