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