Over the years, women have been major players in the field of literacy in Quebec. This year for International Women's Day we decided to highlight some of these amazing women through our #WomenInLiteracy campaign. Read their stories below!
Grace Saabas has been active in the field of literacy since 1972. Grace became active in literacy through the Lutheran Church Women, and eventually joined RECLAIM Literacy in 1980. She was one of RECLAIM's original tutors, first office secretary, first Chairperson, first tutor trainer, first family literacy trainer and quite possibly RECLAIM's first everything! Grace's attitude to her work is to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible, while motivating others with her keen sense of humour. She leaves a lasting impression. Grace has made valuable contributions to the field of literacy and has served as a role model for all volunteers. She inspires all those around her. Her dedication and commitment are unparalleled. She has been a founding member of many Canadian literacy organizations and has served on many of their boards and steered their development.
Martha S. was a driving force in the development of the provincial umbrella organization now known as Literacy Quebec. She first became involved in literacy in 1982 when she became a volunteer literacy tutor for Yamaska Literacy Council. Martha has traveled extensively around Quebec and Canada giving workshops to tutors in communities that don’t have their own training resources. She was the first YLC volunteer to tutor in the Cowansville Institution in 2000, and was instrumental in setting up a Peer Youth Tutor Club in the local high school. Over the years Martha has served on the National Board of Directors for Laubach Literacy of Canada, was active as Provincial Training Officer and was involved in program development (family literacy, training standards) across Canada. She has also been actively involved on the YLC Board of Directors for many years.
When asked what her greatest contribution to literacy is, Cathy Nolan replied that it would be her heart, and she's not asking for it back anytime soon! "I love the work I do, no two days are ever the same and I love being able to contribute at the provincial level. I've learned more than I've ever taught anyone and it's an opportunity for which I'm very grateful to have been given. Hopefully, I can continue for another few years." Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Cathy spent her early career as a nurse, she holds a BSc in Health and Psychology from the University of North London, England. A move to Quebec City saw her able to use her passion for literacy as a volunteer with Quebec City Reading Council. In 2001, she moved from being a volunteer tutor to become the organizations' ED. Cathy has served on the LQ Board of Directors, most recently in the position of President.
“Education has always played a huge role in my life. I love learning and am glad to have found a career path that allows me to apply my knowledge to help others.” At the age of 18 Margo Legault was diagnosed with dyslexia but she did not let that get in her way. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce, law degrees and a Masters in International Human Rights Law. With her business and human rights background, Margo has been able to help Literacy Quebec and other organizations reach new heights. Through her advocacy work, she has helped improve living and working conditions of others and in 2011 she participated in the United Nations International Labour Conference. Margo also speaks four languages and is a seasoned athlete. She has represented Canada in the sport of Australian Football in 2011, 2014 and will be competing in the 2017 International Championship in Melbourne.
Having joined the Literacy Quebec team in 2014, Lauren Gruer is relatively new to the field of literacy. In her time with the organization she has helped in project development, community outreach, and has been instrumental in the development of many social media campaigns. “As someone who has volunteered in the community, it is rewarding to work for an organization who values volunteerism.” Lauren is currently a volunteer Leader for the 4-H Youth Agricultural Club, and in the past has volunteered for the Montreal Children’s Hospital. She has also volunteered and worked for the Family Health COOP, a non-profit health clinic in rural Quebec. Since a young age Lauren has been invested in community work. In elementary school, Lauren along with her classmates started what would become an annual Toy Drive, collecting toys to be distributed in her community to families in need during the holidays. She was recognized by her municipality as the Volunteer of the Month, and was awarded the Outstanding Citizen’s award by the New Frontiers School Board. Lauren has been able to use her experience in community work coupled with her administrative expertise (Medical Records Management) to raise the profile of Literacy Quebec.
Meet Leila Nulty-Senf! She was President of Western Quebec Literacy Council (WQLC) for 16 years! Leila is the epitome of leadership: generous with encouragement and advice that you don't realize is advice until after it has worked its magic.
Throwback to 1993! These amazing women in literacy are Literacy Leaders! In this photo they are attending the Western Quebec Literacy Council (WQLC) Open House.
"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."
- Margaret Fuller, 1810-1850
Family Literacy Day is a fantastic opportunity for not only parents, but all family members, to share their love of reading and writing as well as discover fun ways to incorporate literacy activities into their daily routines.
This year, literacy groups from all over the province organized exciting events within their local communities. From story-telling sessions to game nights, volunteers worked hard to create fun activities for adults and children. Here are just a few of them:
Yamaska Literacy Council’s storytelling event was a great success. Around 50 adults and children headed down to Heroes’ Memorial School to meet inspiring authors Julia Rohan, Melanie Wirham and Aukue Huiema. Local members of the community kindly donated their old books which meant that children were lucky enough to get their hands on an exciting new read.
Who said literacy couldn’t be creative? Literacy in Action’s Arts and Scraps Night gave community members a chance to craft pieces of artwork using old magazines. The fun didn’t stop there though. There was a storytelling evening, movie night, and even a game night. The latter required participants to work as a team, use speech to exchange ideas and evaluate information to make rational decisions. Fantastic!
Literacy Unlimited celebrated Family Literacy Day by holding two story-time sessions in their local library. Executive Director Lucy Baum even shared some top tips for good family literacy practices and also talked about her favourite picture books.
The Western Quebec Literacy Council came up with an original way of practicing literacy skills by hosting a book-making event.
Over 1500 people were reached through the Literacy Quebec network for Family Literacy Day.
Thank you to all the volunteers for sharing your love of reading on this special day. These events have proven that practicing literacy skills as a family really can be fun. We can’t wait to see what next year will bring!
Exciting news for Yamaska Literacy Council!
"Health booklet/carnet santé developed by YLC and Le Sac à Mots was chosen by the Perkins Foundation as a project.. the booklet will be reprinted and circulated to help people in our community navigate their health . Thank you! Merci!" They posted to Facebook last week.
Follow the link for the full article.
This December our intern Ishen has been very busy! He has been visiting various organizations throughout the community and letting them know all about Literacy Quebec and the groups we represent. These new connections are sure to be invaluable, and we look forward to working with these groups in the future.
He has visited:
The Autonomous Community Action Organizations, recognized by the Department of Education and Higher Education through the Programme d’action communautaire sur le terrain de l’éducation (PACTE), are pleased with the announcement made today by the Minister of Education, Mr. Sébastien Proulx, to invest an additional $ 9 million in support of their mission. This investment will enable these organizations to make a better contribution to the educational success and life long learning of young people and adults. The PACTE recognizes and financially supports 182 organizations involved in literacy, drop out prevention, school reintegration and continuing education.
View the original Press Release in French:
CAROLINE PLANTE, MONTREAL GAZETTE
QUEBEC — Many English-speaking Quebecers are illiterate to the point of not being able to get their driver’s license or help their children with homework. That Quebec is investing an additional $20 million a year in literacy programs is great news, according to Margo Legault, executive director at Literacy Quebec.
The not-for-profit organization counts 13 centres across Quebec dedicated to helping Anglo-Quebecers improve their literacy skills.
“A lot of people when they think of literacy think ‘Oh it’s not an issue in Quebec because everyone has to go to school and they can read and write’,” Legault said. “But there are levels of literacy that affect your daily life; you can’t manage your health if you can’t understand how to take your prescription. If you can’t balance a budget, that can also affect your financial situation and stress levels. Also your civic participation, a lot of people are afraid to go vote because they don’t understand how the system works or how to fill out a ballot.”
Legault said her organization’s budgets haven’t been indexed in “many, many years,” and, as result, literacy centres have had to downsize and cut staff.
“We have staff that hasn’t had a pay increase in years, I’m talking 10-15 years,” she said.
Speaking at the educational success consultations that took place Friday in Quebec City, Education Minister Sébastien Proulx said he’s boosting literacy groups’ annual funding to $27.3 million a year, up from $18.3 million, with part of the additional $20 million investment. The extra money will also include $4 million to be divided up among school boards for literacy programs, $1.3 million to companies to provide employees with literacy training, $200,000 to Quebec’s Literacy Foundation, and funds to set up a new help line for parents.
Legault said she’s anxious to see how much will go to English groups. “We’re 13 groups out of 183 and we cover very large territories, and when you look at the amount of funding that’s received for each group, we’re on the lower end of the spectrum.”
PQ education critic Alexandre Cloutier called the investment “a step in the right direction,” but argued the minister is putting back money the Liberals cut at the start of their mandate.
“We have to remember that it’s the same government that cut these organizations,” Cloutier said, adding he expects the government to also loosen its purse strings to help students with special needs.
More contentious proposals that have been kicking around the Liberal party, such as mandatory schooling until 18, a professional order for teachers and kindergarten for four-year-olds, are still being reviewed.
To see the article in the Montreal Gazette:
Today marks the 50th Anniversary of International Literacy Day!
Please take a moment to offer your support for a National Literacy Strategy!
"Since 1987, [Literacy Practitioners of Manitoba] has been a provincial voice of adult literacy contributing greatly to the understanding and advancement of Manitoba's Literacy and Essential Skills landscape through advocacy, research, policy development and the support of practitioners in the field."
Unfortunately, on April 30th they had to close their doors. The Literacy Partners of Manitoba is just one of many provincial literacy groups that have had to close recently due to a cuts in federal funding.
Please read the post by Brigid Hayes about this closure.
Literacy Quebec inaugurated the Freda Hudson Volunteer Recognition Award in 2007, in memory of a remarkable volunteer. It is presented annually to an active volunteer who has made a significant contribution to literacy.
The recipient of the 2015 award is Jim Eames, a volunteer at the Quebec City Reading Council. He has been a volunteer there for quite some time, and has made significant contributions to their Life Long Learning program. He has gone above and beyond the role of a volunteer, and was be presented this recognition award during Volunteer Appreciation Week, in April.
Congratulations to Jim, and thank you for all of the amazing work that you have been doing for the field of literacy!