September 07, 2010 11:22 ET

Literacy Educators and Learners Honoured by Canada Post

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 7, 2010) - Canada Post today announced the winners of its 2010 Community Literacy Awards. This year's recipients of the 17-year old program are people that have overcome significant personal challenges and demonstrated a strong desire to improve their literary skills. The 11 winners in the Educator and Individual categories come from all parts of Canada – from Quesnel, British Columbia to Petit-Rocher, New Brunswick. The Canada Post Community Literacy Awards is an initiative started by Canada Post in 1993 to recognize literacy learners and the community-based organizations that support them.

"This year's winners told us stories of uncommon courage to fight against circumstances to make tremendous efforts to improve their reading and writing skills and, as a result, their lives," says Anthony Wilson-Smith, Vice-president, Communications and Public Affairs.

2010 Community Literacy Awards Winners

Individual Achievement - English

  • Dean Christie, Zealand (NB)
  • Jack Osborne, North Bay (ON)

Individual Achievement – French

  • Liliane Biti, Winnipeg (MB)
  • Francine Bouffard, Châteauguay (QC)

Educator – English

  • Carolyn Reicher, Calgary (AB)
  • Rebecca Beuschel, Quesnel (BC)
  • Jayne Geldart, Darmouth (NS)
  • Tim Nicholls Harrison, Owen Sound (ON)

Educator – French

  • Monique Bouchard, Petit-Rocher (NB)
  • Karen Kavouette, Alma (QC)

This year marks the 17th edition of the Canada Post Community Literacy Awards. Prizes and awards will be presented at local ceremonies over the next few weeks; winners will be recognized at ceremonies in their communities and awarded a prize of $300 (Individual) or $500 (Educator). The Canada Post Community Literacy Awards are proud to have the support of Lowe Martin as the Official Sponsor.



Carolyn Reicher

For the past decade, Carolyn Reicher has been instrumental in developing, implementing, and coordinating literacy learning opportunities for adult Calgarians. A passionate advocate for adult literacy, Carolyn has worked closely with agencies and individuals to build understanding of literacy issues and increase access to services. 

Carolyn's passion for literacy crystallized in the summer of 2000 when she was asked to develop a new adult literacy program at the Calgary Public Library. With no formal training in literacy programming, Carolyn pioneered the Reading Advantage program and was instrumental in all areas of program design. She also developed a special lending library for the program's learners and volunteers. Since the program launched, more than 350 learners have improved their reading and writing skills—often with life-changing results.

According to Rosemary Griebel, Special Projects Librarian at the Calgary Public Library, "Every day Carolyn's energy, commitment and positive attitude are a source of inspiration to literacy learners and volunteers, and the communities in which they live."


Rebecca Beuschel

Rebecca Beuschel has been working in the literacy field for more than 10 years, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to adults and coordinating adult literacy tutoring programs and family literacy programs. She currently works as the Literacy Outreach Coordinator for the Literacy Quesnel Society.

Her committee's vision is not to duplicate services, but to look at what the community has and strengthen it. She's taken the "outreach" part of literacy outreach coordinator seriously.

Rather than working directly with learners, she works with people and organizations that interact with potential learners. She also works with program coordinators in varying fields, from food bank operators and parenting classes to a myriad of service providers, to help them understand literacy issues.

According to Mayor Mary Sjostrom, City of Quesnel, "Ms. Beuschel is an inspiration for many adult learners and educators and should be applauded for her exceptional efforts and outstanding contributions within our communities."


Jayne Geldart

Jayne Geldart has been involved in English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching and learning for more than twenty years—most of them working with Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) to support the integration of adult immigrants into the community. She also spent many years as an ESL instructor dedicated to teaching English and skills to new immigrants to Canada. Her compassion and considerable abilities have helped almost a thousand newcomers to learn English and settle into their communities.

As an ESL Literacy instructor, Jayne has taught English language skills to learners who have little or no formal education, have no experience with the printed word and often don't know that print conveys meaning. She has also developed a unique program for ESL literacy learners within ISIS. The Program for the Acquisition of Literacy Skills (P.A.L.S.) has been acknowledged regionally as a best practice and is seen as a model for immigrant literacy learners across the country. 

According to those she works with, Jayne uses her knowledge and skills as an ESL professional to support and guide less experienced instructors. In the words of one of her team members, "Jayne is the best manager I have ever had in my professional career. She is open, fair, considerate, fun and is a fantastic motivator and team builder."


Tim Nicholls Harrison

Tim Nicholls Harrison has been an ardent promoter of literacy for more than twenty-two years. During this time, Tim has been an active champion in creating and developing several literacy networks. He has held executive positions on many regional networks, including founding member and Chairperson of the local Quality in Lifelong Learning (QUILL) Network.

Tim's ongoing participation in the Grey Bruce Children's Alliance has been instrumental in bringing Bridges out of Poverty certification training to fifty staff members from many local community organizations—an initiative that will benefit the Owen Sound region for decades.

In recent years, Tim has focused on developing twenty-first century learning skills (i.e., Web 2.0 or social media skills) and sharing his knowledge and expertise with students and Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) practitioners through workshops. 

Tim has also developed two successful fundraising activities—the Scrabble for Literacy Tournament and the Novel Marathon for Literacy. These events have raised thousands of dollars for literacy initiatives and have provided the models for other local fundraising events across Ontario. 



Monique Plourde Bouchard

The second oldest in a family of 10 children, Monique Plourde Bouchard dropped out of school early to help her parents. While she was a stay-at-home mother, she attended community college and finished her high school studies. In turn, spurred on by a desire to help people who wanted to learn, she taught people struggling with illiteracy on a part-time basis. Motivated by her experience, she moved on to university and earned a degree in teaching. 

Clever and committed, Ms. Plourde Bouchard has implemented many projects to keep her students interested while enabling them to acquire a wide range of knowledge. These projects have included composing a song and writing a recipe book. This teacher is also involved in her community. She was treasurer and then chair of the Conseil d'Alphabétisation Restigouche-Ouest for a total of six years. She then represented her region on the Fédération d'alphabétisation du Nouveau-Brunswick and today serves as vice-chair of the Conseil alpha Bathurst Chaleur.

For the past eight years, Ms. Plourde Bouchard has taught a class of 35 special needs students. In addition to her qualities as a teacher, this lady with a big heart is recognized for her ability to get the best out of the people she encounters. 


Karen Cayouette

Karen Cayouette had been teaching for five years in the school system when she volunteered her services to a literacy organization that hired her as an instructor. 

Since then, Ms. Cayouette has personally welcomed every student who comes to her class. Her actions go beyond what is usually considered training; she takes the initiative to create situations that motivate the group members in order to promote collective action and civic duty. What she suggests to them is to learn through action, ensuring that they use every day the knowledge they have acquired. 

Using a collective and democratic approach, she encourages students to work together to complete a variety of projects, such as creating a Web site and publishing a recipe book. To support the students' desire to develop further, Ms. Cayouette helped them establish the Jeune Coop "Cœur d'apprendre." In doing so, the instructor took her teaching beyond reading and writing by also fostering dialogue, mutual support, independence and entrepreneurship. 

Karen Cayouette does more than just help her students acquire new knowledge; through the confidence she instils in them, she confirms the skills that each one of them possesses.



Dean Christie

Born with Spinal Meningitis, in and out of surgery during his 28 years, Dean Christie knows about challenges; he also knows about overcoming them. One of those challenges has been the struggle to learn to read and write.

Before Dean improved his reading and writing skills, he had to ask for help reading just about everything—a situation that left him feeling frustrated. Without basic literacy skills, he couldn't fill out a job application, read the newspaper or even the TV Guide.

After high school, it was his strong desire to read and understand the Bible better that drove Dean to seek help with reading. Although his reading began to improve, Dean still had trouble with comprehension. In the fall of 2000, he heard about the Keswick Valley Laubach Literacy Council and approached the council for help to improve his literacy skills. One-on-one tutoring began almost immediately, and according to Dean, "the rest is history." With hard work and help from dedicated tutors, Dean now has more confidence reading—whether he's in front of his congregation or reading stories to his little niece.


Jack Osborne

When Jack Osborne left high school after completing Special Education Grade 10, his reading, writing and math skills were almost non-existent. Without these skills, he couldn't read newspapers, road signs, warning labels or any other written material for that matter. Jack soon discovered that job opportunities are limited for those who can't read and write. 

When Jack married and began a family, he wanted to be there for his wife and children whether it was to help with homework, write notes for school or read instructions on medication. At age 29, his strong desire to improve his literacy skills brought him to the North Bay Literacy Council, where he was welcomed with open arms. Since that time, Jack has worked hard to improve his reading and writing skills. His efforts have opened many new doors for him, including the pleasure of reading to his children. He has also dedicated time and effort to support literacy programs in his own community. In 2009, Jack was the proud recipient of the Council's Nancy Herdman Award for dedication and commitment to learning.



Liliane Biti

In 2007, Liliane Biti left the Congo to escape the war. With the help of the government and a refugee assistance organization, she settled in Winnipeg.

On her arrival, everything was difficult for her: she could not practise her profession as a jewellery maker and had difficulty overcoming the language barrier. A support group helped her break the isolation, and a friend registered her in a literacy program run by Pluri-elles, an organization in Manitoba. Ms. Biti, who had not finished her third year in high school in the Congo for financial reasons, found learning difficult. She lacked self-confidence and had difficulty expressing herself in French. However, she persevered and was determined to finish her high school studies to find suitable employment. 

Today, Ms. Biti knows how to write a letter, read novels and watch movies in French. She can hold a conversation and can even assist her instructor with other students. Armed with the confidence that she gained through her learning, Ms. Biti represents students within the Fédération canadienne pour l'alphabétisation en français. "One thing is certain," she says "in life, you must never give up. Anything is possible." 


Francine Bouffard

With only a grade five primary education, Francine Bouffard was upset that she could not help her children with their homework. Determined to learn, she practised reading and writing using flyers. 

Family problems led her to a crisis intervention centre where she was told about the Comité d'entraide populaire, an organization devoted to several causes including literacy. She registered with the organization and began attending one class a week. The first year was difficult, but Ms. Bouffard persevered and enrolled for the following year. She participated in many workshops and had a role in a play despite a problem with deafness. Her new reading and writing skills enabled her, at age 54, to obtain her first driver's licence, an achievement that earned the admiration of her family and friends.

Today, Francine Bouffard knows how to read, write and even use a computer. Thanks to the help she received from the Comité d'entraide populaire, she now knows that she too has talent.

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