Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP receives national literacy award

TORONTO, ON – Canada's national award that recognizes corporations' exceptional contributions in support of the issue of literacy was presented last night to the national law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes).

In accepting the 11th annual Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C. Literacy Public Awareness Award, Blakes joins the ranks of previous award recipients CBC-Radio Canada, Air Canada, Baton Broadcasting System (CTV), Canadian Cable Television Association, Canadian Community Newspapers Association, CanWest Global Communications Corporation, Coca-Cola Ltd., Honda Canada Inc., Maclean-Hunter Publishing (now Rogers Media), Royal Bank Financial Group, Taxi Advertising, Canadian Yellow Pages™ Publishers, Mediacom Inc., Southam Inc. and Telemedia Publishing, which have all shown exceptional generosity and innovation in their support of literacy programs in Canada, and of ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation.

Affectionately known in the literacy field as "the Joycee," the award's namesake is Senator Joyce Fairbairn, a long-standing champion of the literacy cause in Canada, who presented the award to Jim Christie, the Chairman of Blakes.

Blakes support began at start of ABC CANADA

ABC CANADA recognizes Blakes for providing pro bono legal services to the organization and for its many years offering its offices for a number of ABC CANADA business meetings. Blakes has also generously provided its reception and dining facilities, including delivery of the food service at cost, in support of ABC CANADA’s two national awards dinners: the ‘Joycee,’ as well as the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit dinner. “Blakes legal counsel has been invaluable, and its opening its doors to us has both provided a convenient and welcoming environment for our meetings, and greatly encouraged the development of our awards programs,” said Margaret Eaton, President, ABC CANADA.

For 16 years, Blakes has counselled ABC CANADA, one of its earliest undertakings being the organization’s registration as a charitable organization in 1991. Peter Gilchrist, Partner Emeritus at Blakes, was in those early years the lead lawyer at Blakes on the Southam Inc. file, and Southam’s President William Ardell was one of the key proponents for forming ABC CANADA in order to address the concerning issue of low literacy among Canadian adults. The two men both became founding members of the ABC CANADA Board, and the now long-standing relationship between ABC CANADA and Blakes was born.

“Blakes understood the literacy cause and wanted to support it, and ABC CANADA is the grateful recipient of its generosity,” added Eaton. “We salute the vision of those who started our charity, and we salute Blakes for its unfailing support over a decade and a half.”

The firm’s support of ABC CANADA is part of a fabric of pro bono initiatives undertaken by the firm, which is dedicated to expanding its legal services for individuals and organizations that cannot otherwise obtain legal advice or representation. “Blakes is honoured to be the recipient of this year’s ‘Joycee’ award,” said Blakes Chairman Jim Christie. “As a firm, we are committed to providing pro bono services to organizations that are making a difference, and ABC CANADA definitely falls into that category. The Foundation is doing wonderful work in promoting literacy, which is so vital to a strong and prosperous Canada.”

The firm’s pro bono work includes contributions to the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, as well as Special Olympics Canada; Evergreen, a national not-for-profit environmental organization; The Minerva Foundation for BC Women, which assists girls and women in realizing their potential; The Portage Program for Drug Dependencies Inc., one of North America’s leading not-for-profit organizations in the treatment of drug abuse; Child Advocacy Project (CAP), a collaborative effort of Justice for Children and Youth, The Advocates’ Society and Pro Bono Law Ontario dedicated to protecting and enhancing the legal rights of children across Ontario; and Dignitas International, a Toronto-based international medical humanitarian organization pioneering a sustainable community-based HIV/AIDS treatment delivery and prevention model that can be replicated throughout the world.

Awards event picture
Photo credit: Loren Turner
Jim Christie, Chairman of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, holds the Joycee award, beside Senator Joyce Fairbairn, who received an honorary award, and with Margaret Eaton and Alan Middleton, President and Chair of ABC CANADA.

About Blakes
Serving a diverse client base in virtually every area of business law, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP has served many of Canada’s and the world’s leading businesses and organizations for 150 years. With more than 500 lawyers in offices in Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, London, Beijing and an office in Shanghai through its China Alliance, it is the only Canadian law firm to rank in all 14 categories in Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers for Business 2007. For the fourth consecutive year, Blakes has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and is the only law firm on the list.

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