REP Here in Canada wins top spot in the Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award

ABC Life Literacy Canada (ABC) is pleased to announce the top and honourable mention winners of the 2020 Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award (LIA). The annual award recognizes organizations that develop and implement innovative adult literacy and essential skills programs in communities across Canada.

The LIA top award will be given to REP Here in Canada along with $20,000, which the organization can use towards future programming. In addition to the top winner, four honourable mention winners will receive $5,000 each.

Each of the winners have demonstrated that their program has made a positive contribution to the lives of their adult learners as well as the community, and all serve as a model for other organizations to adapt.

“We received fantastic submissions this year and are so impressed by not only the creativity and innovation of the programs, but also the impact that these programs have on communities across Canada,” said Mack Rogers, Executive Director of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “We thank Canada Life once again for their continued support of this award, which ultimately helps build capacity in the literacy and learning field.”

Since its inception in 2012, 45 LIAs have been awarded to literacy organizations across the country (9 top awards and 36 honourable mention awards), representing $360,000 in funding for the field.

“It’s our pleasure to congratulate this year’s deserving top and honourable mention winners. At Canada Life, we support educational initiatives that focus on adult literacy and recognize the need for programs that provide adult learners with the essential skills they need to succeed in life,” said Debbie Down, Director, Community Relations at Canada Life. “That is why we’re proud to support ABC Life Literacy Canada and the Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award. Working together with community organizations, we make a positive impact that helps improve the well-being of all Canadians.”

REP Here in Canada will be presented the LIA in October during a virtual event. The award presentation followed by a moderated discussion will showcase all LIA winners as models for best practice in the literacy and essential skills sector. Register for the virtual event.

TOP WINNER, receiving $20,000

REP Here in Canada, Victoria, BC

Program: Here Magazine

Here Magazine is a print and digital publication produced by adult learners through community workshops called Here Labs. Here Labs are multi-discipline, hands-on workshops where participants learn and develop storytelling tools suitable to each learner’s language skill level and include writing, photography, podcasting, and videography. Here Lab workshops lay the groundwork for the publication and explore issues relevant to newcomer, immigrant and racialized communities from the perspective of the learners. The goals of the program are for participants to be published in Here Magazine, to be actively involved in the publication process, and to overcome real and perceived barriers to skill development.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS, receiving $5,000 each

Burnaby School District (BSD) 41 LINC Program (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), Burnaby, BC

Program: The BSD LINC Literacy Stream Program

The BSD LINC Literacy Stream Program serves multi-barriered, high-risk adult ESL (English Second Language) newcomer and refugee learners. BSD’s winning program focuses on adult learners with limited literacy and language skills in their first language and who have gaps in their education. The program’s curriculum offers language training that can be immediately integrated and applied to learners’ everyday lives. The program employs language for settlement-related themes and real-world tasks. Guest speakers and field trips expose learners to their new language and skills in authentic situations.

Centre for Family Literacy, Edmonton, AB

Program: The Edmonton Literacy Classroom on Wheels (the COW Bus)

The Edmonton Literacy Classroom on Wheels (the COW Bus) is a free family literacy program that engages adults and their children in literacy activities. It is a mobile lending library and program space that visits 10 communities in the Edmonton area, at the same time each week for 30 weeks. The COW Bus travels to communities experiencing unemployment, lack of community resources, low income, isolation, and other barriers. The program engages learners in shared literacy experiences that enhance the skills of both parents and children. Essential skills are embedded in programming to create opportunities for conversations around what is needed to be able to learn.

John Howard Society of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

Program: Skills Plus

Skills Plus is a continuous intake program that builds learners’ confidence, self-esteem, and literacy skills. The program meets learners at a “pre-literacy” level: it provides regular workshops on everything from employment skills to mindfulness and guided meditations. The program focuses on physical and mental health by offering regular walks, chats with teachers and volunteers, as well as nutritious food. Skills Plus works with learners on a path of self-discovery and learning. Participation in the program results in improved social skills, empathy, and mutual support. The style of teaching holds the fact that the students are talented, valuable, and worthy at its core. Skills Plus does not just impart literacy and basic skills; it helps learners build self-empathy and compassion. It provides them with an understanding of self and new, more positive social roles.

Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, in partnership with Atlantic provincial partners, PEI Literacy Alliance, Newfoundland & Labrador Laubach Literacy Council and Literacy Nova Scotia

Program: Essential Skills for Atlantic Fisheries (ESAF)

Essential Skills for Atlantic Fisheries (ESAF) launched in 2018 and is an essential skills program that proactively addresses the labour market challenges faced by fisheries sector employers in the Atlantic provinces. ESAF serves employers in the fisheries sector, as well as low-income unemployed individuals looking for work. Learners develop essential skills like reading, document use, and numeracy, by practicing tasks directly related to work in the fisheries industry. The program is unique in its application of essential skills training to industry-specific competencies. ESAF’s development was a highly collaborative project, with input from government and community organizations in all four Atlantic provinces. The cross-provincial nature of the program is a rare and a shining example of an innovative solution to a wide-spread issue.