OBPO study finds there are not enough Canadian books in Ontario schools

>>From Quill & Quire

OBPO study finds there are not enough Canadian books in Ontario schools

The Ontario Book Publishers Organization has released a study assessing how much Canadian literature is being taught in the province’s classrooms. The survey was conducted by researcher and education specialist Catherine Bates on behalf of the OBPO, and included data provided by 307 teachers in both public and Catholic school boards in Ontario.

OBPO executive director Holly Kent says the organization decided to conduct research on the topic after hearing a number of parents and teachers express concern that students are exposed to very few Canadian books in school. “We knew from earlier studies and anecdotal evidence that students are reading the same decades-old American and British books in classrooms that they have been for, well, decades,” Kent says. “We’ve been advocating for Canadian books to be included in the Ontario curriculum for years and we wanted a baseline to hopefully show how things will improve.”

The survey of books taught in Grades 7–12 yielded 695 distinct titles. Of the top 10 – which include familiar works like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – none were by Canadian writers. Fully six of the top 20 titles cited comprised plays by Shakespeare.

And though homegrown authors Margaret Atwood, William Bell, Joseph Boyden, Yann Martel, Richard Wagamese, and Eric Walters accounted for six of the top 20 most-frequently cited writers, only 23 per cent of overall mentions referred to a Canadian work, and only three Canadian-authored titles appear among the top 20 books. Breaking down the number of times each of the top 20 books was cited, the three Canadian titles – Bell’s Crabbe, Boyden’s Three Day Road, and Martel’s The Life of Pi – accounted for only 10 per cent of mentions.

A large number of teachers surveyed select books to teach based on recommendations from colleagues (29 per cent), or by going through books the school already owns (20 per cent), so the same titles remain in lesson plans year after year. “And it won’t surprise anyone to learn that a lack of funding in schools is the main impediment. Almost half of teachers who responded reported that they don’t have the funds to purchase new books, Canadian or otherwise,” Kent says.

She adds that though there is value in teaching classic works, it’s also vital for young people to see themselves in the media and literature they’re taught. “A lot has been written lately about the importance of representation,” Kent says. “And it’s important that students don’t think about great literature as something that is written hundreds or thousands of miles away.”

The OBPO is hopeful that drawing attention to findings like these will bolster the case for adding more Canadian titles to Ontario syllabi. The provincial government’s new Canadian Books in Ontario Schools Fund – through which the OBPO hopes to secure funding for two new marketing initiatives to help Canadian publishers get their books into schools – may also offer a potential avenue.

York University to Appeal Unequivocal Ruling on Its Copying Practices

>>From The Writers’ Union of Canada

Copyright Uncertainty Continues for Students and Teachers

York University to Appeal Unequivocal Ruling on Its Copying Practices
August 3, 2017 – The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is committed to working with educators and students toward a respectful new agreement on educational copying, despite York University’s recent announcement that they will appeal their Federal Court loss. York released a statement on July 31, declaring they will appeal the July 12 Federal Court decision, but providing no explanation for why they think the judgement was incorrect.

The court assessed a large volume of evidence, weighed the Supreme Court’s tests for fairness, and found York’s copying practices to be unfair. It dismissed York’s published copying guidelines as “not fair in either their terms or their application,” and ordered the university to pay an established and mandatory tariff.

“The court was exceedingly clear in its decision on these copying practices” said TWUC Chair Marjorie Doyle. “It’s rather difficult to imagine how York thinks it might win an appeal. In the meantime, students are back in classrooms within a month, and their teachers are left in a legal limbo about what they can and can’t do.”

After a poorly defined change to the Copyright Act in 2012, many Canadian schools and post-secondary institutions adopted radically expanded copying practices, abandoning a long-established licensing structure that saw writers and publishers compensated for the use of their work. The court decision against York found the controversial free copying policy to be illegitimate and indefensible.

“This appeal is a bizarre and unfortunate decision by York,” said TWUC Executive Director John Degen. “Canada’s writers and publishers are working hard to strengthen our longstanding partnership with education, and yet we find ourselves heading back to court to once again defend our livelihoods. A student copyright licence costs schools pennies per day, while ongoing court expenses are measured in millions of dollars.”

TWUC reiterates its call for a meaningful review of the Copyright Act when the legislation returns to Parliament’s attention this fall.

“Canada can’t afford to have our copyright policy decided by lengthy court action,” insisted Doyle. “There’s too much at stake for cultural workers and students. We need Parliament to fix what was broken in 2012.”
 

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The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. 
For additional information:
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 ext. 221
[email protected]
www.writersunion.ca

Turning the Page: Book Summit 2017 explores driving positive change in the book industry

>>From Book Summit 2017

Toronto, Ontario– Books can change  the world, and on June 15, Book Summit 2017 – “Publish Well and Prosper: Social and Economic Responsibility in the Book Industry” – provides a timely forum to discuss how to do that in an economically responsible way. With actionable takeaways from industry leaders, the conference explores how public good and private profit aren’t mutually exclusive.

Presented by Humber College and the Book and Periodical Council in association with IFOA, this year’s summit features broad-based, practical workshops with noted professionals from all corners of the publishing, writing and media industries. Business ethicist and author Joseph Heath, comedian and broadcaster Candy Palmater, Melville House publisher Valerie Merians, and One World publisher and editor-in-chief Chris Jackson are not to be missed!

“Publish Well and Prosper shows that we can be practical, professional and prosperous – and continue to be socially conscious as an industry that has always acknowledged that responsibility,” says Cynthia Good, founder and director emerita of the Humber College publishing program.

Notes Anne McClelland, executive director of the Book and Periodical Council, “It’s vital for the publishing industry to come together to discuss important and timely issues, and Book Summit is the perfect opportunity to do that. Participants network and meet a wide variety of industry professionals, and end the day with new business skills and innovative strategies to apply to their day-to-day operations.”

Held at Toronto’s scenic Harbourfront Centre, Book Summit is open for registration through booksummit.ca. There is a student rate, and group rates are available for businesses sending five or more participants.

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About Book Summit
Book Summit is an annual publishing industry professional development conference presented by the Book and Periodical Council and Humber College in association with the International Festival of Authors. Book Summit is generously supported by Canadian Heritage’s Canada Book Fund and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. For a complete list of sponsors, visit booksummit.ca.

About the Book and Periodical Council
The Book and Periodical Council (BPC) is the umbrella organization for Canadian associations that are or whose members are primarily involved with the writing, editing, translating, publishing, producing, distributing, lending, marketing, reading and selling of written words. Visit thebpc.ca.

About Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Established in 1967, Humber is one of Canada’s leading postsecondary institutions. Committed to student success through excellence in teaching and learning, Humber serves 29,200 full-time students and 23,000 part time and continuing education students. With an internationally recognized reputation for quality learning, Humber offers a wide-range of career-focused opportunities for students to personalize their educational path, including 160 full-time programs across more than 40 fields of study, 200 part-time and 400 online programs or courses. More than four out of five of Humber graduates are employed within six months of completing their studies. Visit humber.ca

For more information:
Natalie St. Pierre
School of Creative &Performing Arts
416-675-6622 ext. 3363
[email protected]

SHORT LIST ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2016 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD

>>From The Writers’ Union of Canada

SHORT LIST ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2016 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD
The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce the short list of nominees for the twentieth annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2016 in the English language.  The Award consists of cash prizes for the three best first collections, with a first prize of $10,000 and two additional prizes of $500.

The jury this year comprised authors Caroline Adderson, Judy Fong Bates, and David Bergen, who determined the short list from 30 collections submitted, some by seasoned writers, others by authors being published for the first time. Those finalists are:

Kris Bertin, Bad Things Happen, Biblioasis
Lyse Champagne, The Light that Remains, Enfield & Wizenty
André Narbonne, Twelve Miles to Midnight, Black Moss Press
Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Laura Trunkey, Double Dutch, Astoria

The winners will be announced at the OnWords Conference (June 1 – 4) in Vancouver.

The Award was created as a celebration of the life of Danuta Gleed, a writer whose short fiction won several awards before her death in December 1996. Danuta Gleed’s first collection of short fiction, One of the Chosen, was posthumously published by BuschekBooks.  The Award is made possible through a generous donation from John Gleed, in memory of his late wife, and is administered by The Writers’ Union of Canada.
Jury Comments on the Finalists for the
2016 DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD

Kris Bertin, Bad Things Happen (Biblioasis)
The ten stories in this collection come at you like the rounds of a heavyweight match. They are tough and bloodied and pure. And yet, beneath the surface there is revealed a surprising softness, as when a mother gathers her damaged adult son to her chest and says, “It’s alright, and it’s all over.” Bertin knows place and he knows language and he knows his characters — the garbage collectors, the overweight landlords, the petty thieves. And then, oh my, there are the children. What a beautiful book.

Lyse Champagne, The Light that Remains (Enfield & Wizenty)
Through the brutal lens of war, the stories in The Light that Remains span the twentieth century and travel the globe. Readers are caught up in the lives of innocent people in Armenia, the Ukraine, Hong Kong, France, Cambodia, and Rwanda, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the harrowing cruelties of war. With clear, elegant prose and a compassionate voice, Lyse Champagne explores loss, love, kindness, hope, despair, the need to survive. In so doing, she forces into the reader’s heart a deeper understanding of the anguish and strength that resides in the human spirit when worlds are shattered beyond recognition.

André Narbonne, Twelve Miles to Midnight (Black Moss Press)
Narbonne does what so many writers fail to do: he makes work, and the vocabulary of work, an organic part of his stories. Then he throws in love, and so arrives at the essential: work and love. These are gutsy, tightly knotted tales — nothing is wasted. Yes, there is anger here, and sadness, and loss, but in the end, what remains is the tender accounting of wisdom and love and god and fealty.

Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.)
The grimy strip clubs and greasy spoons of Kerry Lee Powell’s imagination bustle with tramps and lunatics, the battered and the scarred. This collection could well have been a downer, but is miraculously the opposite. Dark comedy, hilarious one-liners, and a generous helping of hard-boiled irreverence lighten the despair and ease us, and the characters, to redemption. But more than anything it is Powell’s use of language that lifts these stories off the page. She writes like de Kooning paints, creating worlds bold, brilliant, and chaotic. Powell’s voice, utterly original, delivers a jolt to Canadian writing.

Laura Trunkey, Double Dutch (Astoria)
Double Dutch opens with a dark and comic tale. A mother hears her toddler speaking in his sleep what she believes to be Arabic, and extrapolates that her son may be the reincarnation of a terrorist.  And so begins a roller coaster collection of stories that flirt with the fantastic and the absurd, introducing the reader to a wild cast of characters from Ronald Reagan’s body double to a child who appears to perform miracles to living and spirit sisters who grow up together on the family farm. In her debut collection, Trunkey has crafted a book of deftly told stories: playful, disturbing, sad, funny, compassionate, and insightful, stories with twists and turns, which haunt and enchant.

The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing professional authors of books. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.
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For additional information
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 ext. 221
[email protected]
www.writersunion.ca

Author Deborah Campbell Wins Freedom to Read Award

>>From the Writer’s Union of Canada

For immediate release
Author Deborah Campbell Wins Freedom to Read Award
– author of A Disappearance in Damascus honoured by The Writers’ Union of Canada –
Toronto – February 27, 2017 – The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is proud to announce that Deborah Campbell, journalist and author, is the recipient of the 2017 Freedom to Read Award. The award is presented annually by TWUC in recognition of work that is passionately supportive of free expression. Past recipients include Mohamed Fahmy, Janine Fuller, and Lawrence Hill.

“There is so much to admire in the work of Deborah Campbell,” noted TWUC Chair, George Fetherling. “Whether she is writing about war artists, international care-givers, the bafflingly complex politics of nuclear arms, or the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East, she does not shy from controversy, and is devoted to letting all voices find a place on her page. The jury was unanimous in its choice of Ms. Campbell.”

Deborah Campbell’s 2016 book A Disappearance in Damascus : A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War (Knopf Canada) won the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, and is celebrated for its complex depiction of refugee life and the courageous and dangerous work done by war zone “fixers,” as they help to tell true stories of conflict at the risk of their freedom and lives. The book gives readers first-person access into the politics and cultures that have led to the Syrian refugee crisis.

February 26 to March 4 is Freedom to Read Week in Canada: a national annual celebration that encourages Canadians to think deeply about and value their right to read, write and publish freely. The week has become a regular feature of the annual programming of schools, libraries and literary groups across Canada. Freedom to Read Week is a project of the Book and Periodical Council, the umbrella organization for publishing in Canada. TWUC is a proud partner and supporter of Freedom to Read Week. For more information, please visit freedomtoread.ca. For more background on Deborah Campbell, please visit her website.
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The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. 
www.writersunion.ca

For additional information:
John Degen, Executive Director
416.703.8982 Ext. 221
[email protected]

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