2012 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Recipients
Lisa O’Blenis – Alberta
Lisa O’Blenis is a volunteer tutor with the Calgary Public Library’s Learning Advantage Program, which pairs volunteers with adult literacy learners to achieve their reading, writing and numeracy goals. O’Blenis is committed to lifelong learning and to helping adults overcome their literacy challenges. By customizing lessons and supporting her students, O’Blenis goes above and beyond to provide learners with the necessary literacy skills for the home, workplace and further education. Thanks to O’Blenis’ help, one of her students received his Canadian citizenship and will now be attending the University of Calgary. When not volunteering as a literacy tutor, O’Blenis works in volunteer management, supporting and coordinating a team of over 500 volunteers. O’Blenis has a positive impact on her students and is a true champion for literacy in Alberta.
Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS) – British Columbia
LASS approached the literacy scene with the attitude of “what can we do to help or support you” rather than “this is what we’re doing.” In addition to fostering community collaboration and partnerships, LASS has delivered a variety of well-received literacy programs that target learners across all ages and sectors. For example, the One-to- One Children’s Literacy Program has involved over 200 community volunteers across 13 schools. In only four months, participating children significantly increased their reading speed and their reading accuracy. LASS exemplifies commitment to innovative literacy practices and positive literacy outcomes for all learners as they work to weave literacy into the culture of the communities in School District 83 – North Okanagan Shuswap.
Tina Bergen – Manitoba
Tina Bergen had a passion for learning as a child in Paraguay where her schooling stopped at age 12. She moved with her young family to Canada, where “a whole new world opened up and it was like her mind had come to life.” When Bergen was laid off from the local manufacturing plant there was an opportunity to pursue a job in the Residential Care field. This work required a grade 12 diploma so she enrolled at South Eastman English and Literacy Services to improve her writing skills. Within six months Bergen finished Stage 3, wrote a book, Turbulence, Transitions and Triumphs and enrolled in high school courses. She inspires other learners through her writing, volunteering on the board and her successful transition to the adult learning centre.
Maria (Candy) Mateo – New Brunswick
Maria (Candy) Mateo came to Canada from El Salvador in 1994. Her desire to learn English inspired her to improve her literacy skills. Mateo struggled to communicate with Canadian friends, find work and read the Bible. Attempting various methods of learning the language – including using a Spanish-English dictionary, borrowing books from the library and watching Sesame Street – she began her quest to get a GED, as she wrote, “before I start walking with a cane.” It has been a long journey but in May 2012, Mateo achieved her GED. Her goal is to go to college and train to find meaningful employment. Mateo notes it was with the support of her family and friends and her deep faith in God that she was successful.