Canada’s Premiers Announce 2020 Literacy Award Recipients

Peter Sawyer – New Brunswick
Peter Sawyer has worked in adult literacy since the late 1970’s. As Chair of the Greater Moncton Literacy Council he aided in establishing Laubach Literacy Canada. Peter is the founding member of the Laubach Literacy provincial chapter and has been involved with the provincial Literacy Coalition and Writer’s Federation and the bilingual literary Frye Festival, to name only a few. He has volunteered in various capacities and is often sought after to assist in new initiatives. Through numerous daunting tasks, including fundraising, Peter remained hopeful and recognized the need for change. He is honoured daily by his colleagues who often ask themselves “What would Peter do?” His motivation, passion, and dedication towards improving literacy levels have enriched many lives.

Élizabeth (Betty) Levasseur – New Brunswick
Betty Levasseur has been involved in literacy for more than thirty years. She first started in the Adult Learning Centre in Clair when learning centers were supported by municipalities and fundraising activities were the major source of funding. Betty has played an important role in this area while supporting the center in all aspects. She later joined the Alpha la Vallée lnc. Regional Committee and is the Former President. For the past twelve years, she has served there as Counsellor, Vice President and President. Betty is a very hardworking and passionate volunteer who is convinced and persuasive about the need for programs offered by learning centers.

Delores Vittrekwa – Northwest Territories
Delores Vittrekwa has lived in Fort McPherson her whole life. She has been running literacy programs for toddlers, children, teens, young adults, adults and elders for the past 8 years. She enjoys running programs at the school, outside in open areas, helping others and creating new ideas. Delores enjoys being part of school year events such as running the annual Scholastic Book Fair or signing new babies up for a free book from the Dolly Parton Imagination Foundation. Delores is appreciative of the territorial Literacy Council and Get Active program, the District Education Authority and the Chief Julius School for their continuous support in any ‘small or big’ idea she has in mind, and most of all of the community for their involvement.

Malak Alahmad – Nova Scotia
Malak Alahmad came to Canada with her family from a Jordanian refugee camp in 2017, after having fled the civil war in Syria. As a young mother of four who had no English language skills, Malak set out to adjust to her new life in Canada in stride. In less than three years, she has achieved a level 5 in English and has now enrolled in courses to improve her math and science skills. Her instructor noted that Malak’s positive attitude and her willingness to help others make her a great role model to her fellow learners and instructors. Malak has also made time to give back to her community and mentors new refugee women to help them adjust to life in Canada.

Charmaine Okatsiak – Nunavut
Charmaine Okatsiak’s passion for helping Rankin Inlet youth learn and speak Inuktitut comes from her mother, an Inuktitut teacher, and father, a youth program coordinator. After years working at Leo Ussak Elementary School, Charmaine is finishing the Nunavut Teacher Education Program at Nunavut Arctic College. Concerned with losing her own ability to speak Inuktitut, Charmaine volunteers on local radio to practise and to encourage others to learn it and speak it. This year, she launched the Inuktitut Revitalization Project, a summer program for youth, where she volunteers countless hours to apply for funding, recruit staff and participants, and develop course curriculum and program materials. Charmaine is very open about her imperfect Inuktitut and she encourages youth to be unafraid to make mistakes in their efforts to speak their mother tongue.

Fatuma Hassan – Ontario
Fatuma Hassan came to Canada as a government assisted refugee in December 2015. In Somalia, Fatuma never had the opportunity to attend school and had never learned to read or write. When Fatuma started her English as a Second Language literacy class at Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor (WEST) in 2016 she spoke no English and could not even write her own name. Fatuma cherished this learning opportunity and continues to be committed to her studies with excellent attendance and tremendous diligence. After three years of hard work, Fatuma’s speaking, reading and writing skills have improved greatly. Fatuma is continuing her learning at WEST with the goal of attending the Early Childhood Education program at college and ultimately finding employment helping others learn.

Linda Fraser – Prince Edward Island
Linda Fraser began teaching Adult Education in Abegweit First Nation in 2008 through a partnership with Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI, Abegweit First Nation, Holland College and the Province. As an educator, Linda understands the importance of literacy as a foundational skill to participate in daily life including education and employment. Linda teaches and mentors 10 new learners per year on average, creating a safe and inviting classroom environment. She champions the success of her students and motivates them to meet their goals. Many of Linda’s students have pursued post-secondary education as a result of her efforts. Furthermore, Linda took it upon herself to create an after-school program in Abegweit First Nation to include the children of her learners in a cycle of positive learning.