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United for Literacy's 2023 Award Winners 

Oct. 27 2023

United for Literacy thrives because people believe in our mission of using literacy as a tool to change lives for the better. Each year, we honour the people and organizations that are at the heart of everything we do with national awards. This year, we celebrate two outstanding individuals and an organization. All have shown longstanding support of our people and programs. 

The Fitzpatrick Award 

The Fitzpatrick Award honours an organization that shows leadership, commitment, and/or financial support to the cause of literacy. The McCain Foundation is the 2023 Fitzpatrick Award recipient for their work and contributions in New Brunswick. For almost 10 years, they have supported Summer Literacy Camps in Atlantic Canada, in partnership with Indigenous communities. 

Summer Literacy Camp is a place for children to develop skills in an environment that reinforces and celebrates learning. Camp is a community-wide affair that includes counsellors hired from the community. Elders, parents, and community members visit and speak at camp. There are also fun, relevant field trips and activities to promote the love of reading and prevent summer learning loss.  

As well as supporting camps, since 2022 The McCain Foundation funded the Student Mentoring Program in New Brunswick. This occurs in the school year and increases the opportunity for children (including those who attend camp) to succeed in school.  

The McCain Foundation has been a longtime supporter of United for Literacy with a deep appreciation for their mission to ensure all children are supported in their learning and development.” - Linda McCain, Chair of the McCain Foundation 

The Companion Award  

Being named the Companion of United for Literacy is the highest recognition the organization confers upon an individual. The 2023 Companion Award recipient is Bruce Munro Wright. 

Bruce has been a leader, a donor, and a volunteer with United for Literacy for many years. His work with the organization includes nine years on the Board of Directors, for which he served as Chair for two years. Since leaving the Board, Bruce has continued to champion the cause of literacy and dedicated himself to finding new supporters in his hometown, Vancouver, throughout British Columbia, and across the country. With generosity, he opens his home each year to host an annual donor event in Vancouver. Bruce is a champion of United for Literacy and our cause. We are grateful for all he has done. 

I am very touched and appreciative,” Bruce said upon learning of this award. “I am beyond delighted, and I am so proud of what you are all doing!” 

Joyce Matthews Award 

The Joyce Matthews Award is United for Literacy’s annual volunteer award. The Joyce Matthews National Volunteer Award is in honour of former United for Literacy Board Member, donor, friend, and Reading Circle volunteer, Joyce Matthews, who passed away in 2018. 

The 2023 Joyce Matthews Award recipient is Carey Austin, a volunteer with the Families Learning Together program in Scarborough, Ontario. 

Conversation is one way that Carey has helped newcomers to Canada achieve their English-speaking goals. The learners she meets with are from all over the world. They include people from Columbia, China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Bolivia, Ethiopia, and Mauritius. Starting as a volunteer in 2012, most of Carey's work occurred in person. When the pandemic changed the way Carey met with her learners, her compassion and creativity kept people engaged online.  

After working with Carey, one learner said she had the confidence to apply for a job and was sure she could work in English. Helping people build confidence is at the heart of Carey’s work. Her learners have achieved Canadian Citizenship; pursued higher education; and entered the workforce. These milestones speak to Carey’s dedication, positivity, and creative approach to learning. 

Upon finding out she was the 2023 Joyce Matthews Award recipient, Carey said, “I feel very honoured to have been selected. It was very kind of Denise to put my name forward to your committee." 

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