Canada’s Premiers Announce 2022 Literacy Award Recipients

Valarie Higgins – New Brunswick
Valarie Higgins is a steadfast and supportive leader with the Moncton Regional Literacy Council (MRLC) and Laubach Literacy New Brunswick. She has led countless committees and councils to advance the cause of literacy in New Brunswick and has worked as a tutor, coordinator and board member. Valarie has helped hundreds begin their literacy journey. Though she has stepped down as the President of the board of MRLC, she continues to serve on the board, and continues to have a direct impact as a mentor for new tutors, taking them under her wing and nurturing their passion for literacy. Her dedication and passion for literacy are apparent to all.

Jean-François Ouellette – New Brunswick
In Jean-François Ouellette’s role as a teacher at the Tournesol Adapted Learning Centre in Edmundston, he works mainly with adult learners with disabilities. Jean-François is enthusiastic, respectful, patient, persevering, innovative, and has a well-developed capacity to adapt. It is a source of great pride for him when his students succeed at learning and achieve their ultimate goal of earning their GED certificate. To assist a learner with reduced sight, he learned Braille so that he could develop learning activities that incorporate a tactile dimension. His remarkable work has positively impacted learners on a provincial scale and is bound to continue generating benefits for future learners. Jean-François’ outstanding achievement in teaching deserves recognition. Thanks to his dedication, he is helping to improve the skills of New Brunswickers.

Western Arctic Youth Collective – Northwest Territories
The Western Arctic Youth Collective (WAYC) is a youth-led collaborative focused on empowering youth in the Beaufort Delta region of the Northwest Territories.

WAYC promotes family, Indigenous, health, and community literacy through its unique programming. The group promotes oral literacy through its virtual book clubs that invite participants to take turns reading the book aloud together. WAYC also promotes digital literacy through workshops on podcasting and video editing, land-based literacy skills through wilderness and leadership camps, and Indigenous language revitalization through events like Language Bingo and Language Scavenger Hunt and by distributing language learning kits. WAYC promotes strong mental health literacy through virtual wellness check-ins and annual workshops that include discussions on addictions, mental health and suicide, as well as life promotion and community empowerment.

Andrew Chacko – Nova Scotia
Andrew Chacko arrived in Canada from India in 2008 and moved to Nova Scotia in 2015. Born without hearing and knowing only Indian Sign Language, he joined the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association (ACALA) to improve his reading and writing skills to build connections with others and improve his employment opportunities. Andrew was motivated to learn American Sign Language (ASL) and within two years, was able to reach intermediate level and helped to build a community of ASL learners in Antigonish. In addition to helping run ASL tutorials, Andrew spends his time volunteering with different organizations and community projects. His resilience and leadership have made those around him better at reaching out to others, adapting, and finding ways to be inclusive.

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