Canada’s Premiers Announce 2015 Literacy Award Recipients

Christa Piercey – New Brunswick
Christa Piercey is a remarkable example of courage and resilience as she has overcome both physical and learning challenges. As a young cancer survivor with a diagnosis of autism, she has been able to make steady and constant gains in her life. Piercey is in the process of completing the GED preparation program and certification and would like to continue on to post-secondary education. To quote her mother, “she wants to go to college to get business administration [skills] and open a café where every person will feel included and accommodated.” Although Piercey may have lacked confidence in her abilities when she began her journey, she has shown commitment to her goals and has been a positive influence to anyone with whom she has come in contact.

Russell Simms – Newfoundland and Labrador
Russell Simms left school at sixteen years old without a high school diploma and had always regretted his decision. In 2013, a little over thirty years later, he decided to try again and entered the provincial Adult Basic Education (ABE) program at Keyin College. The college’s principal notes that he quickly became a role model in his class. Simms has since completed ABE, as well as a carpentry course, and is now employed in his new profession. Simms says that the ABE program has improved his literacy skills and opened so many doors for him that he would recommend it to anyone who wants a second chance in life.

Carol Elanik – Northwest Territories
Carol Elanik is a 38-year-old Inuvialuit woman from Aklavik who self-identifies as living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Elanik’s optimism and perseverance have helped her to progress to a level of functional literacy that has allowed her to live on her own and made her a role model to others. Elanik sets her own literacy goals and challenges herself to move beyond expectations. She regularly attends literacy, numeracy and computer classes at her local college and actively supports others to continue their education. She has a Facebook page that she uses to keep others up-to-date on community events and she is an enthusiastic volunteer at youth nights and camps, where she organizes literacy activities. She is also a cultural ambassador to newcomers to the community.

Andy Ewing – Nova Scotia
Andy Ewing left the public school system for a variety of health issues in 2008, but was eventually referred to the Dartmouth Learning Network where the next phase of his educational journey began. An important first step in this journey was being matched with a dedicated tutor who helped him gain the confidence he needed to succeed. Each milestone he achieved helped him to move beyond his comfort zone and take on new challenges. Ewing has learned the importance of volunteering and he continues to help others, paying forward the help he received throughout his journey. He successfully completed the Adult Learning Program at both the Dartmouth Learning Network and the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). Ewing graduated in June 2015, receiving the Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma for Adults, and he will attend the Continuing Care Assistant Program at NSCC in the fall.