Before I begin, I’ll apologize for the apparently drunken photo-taking. I’m still getting used to the camera in my Galaxy Note II 😛
The evening’s events picked up after dinner with an introductory monologue from Bruce about the dubious joys of being a comedy writer.
Then Charles Foran took the podium with an impassioned plea from PEN Canada. While the organization is best known for its work overseas on behalf of writers and free speech (a current campaign focuses on the events in Turkey), PEN has noticed a disturbing trend here in Canada with the censorship of and the digital freedom controversy.
PEN needs writers everywhere to stand up for the right to free speech and fight the oppression of censorship. To this end, they are conducting a membership drive until the end of June. Please consider joining this worthy organization.
Next was Andrew Westoll, Author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Andrew presented the stories of three of the Fauna chimps, their individual struggles, and the rewards their caregivers reap. It was an amazingly touching presentation.
Then, President Matthew Bin introduced the CAA literary awards. Originally started in 1937, the awards were the “for authors, by authors” recognition of excellence in Canadian literature. They became the Governor General’s Awards and administration of them assumed by the Canada Council for the Arts. More recently, in 1975, the Canadian Authors Association has once again started their awards program.
Here is the list of the winners.
It was a fabulous evening and I was inspired by having been a part of it.
The rest of the story
I have been a professional member of the CAA since I joined a few years ago. As such, I have voting privileges at the annual general meeting. Two years ago, I expressed interest in taking part in the program committee.
This year, I was invited to join it.
The program committee has a fairly sweeping mandate, including the CAA literary awards and the annual conference. Also on the list of responsibilities are professional development programs (where my greatest interest is), the roving writers program, editor-in-residence program, members’ book catalogue, and contests. I’m a little daunted but I have great fellow committee members and a great chair to work with. Our role is primarily to set policy and make key decisions. We won’t be doing the leg work, but I can see some of that happening.
There are exciting times ahead for the CAA as it also embarks of a “twig” program and membership drive.
The web site is also undergoing a long-overdue revamp and should be far more oriented to service to the CAA’s membership.
I’ve made some writerly connections: Sharif Khan, author of The Psychology of the Hero Soul, John McDonell, and Vikki Vansickle. I reconnected with some old friends too: Sandra Stewart attended for the weekend only, as did Betty Guenette, another member of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild. I reconnected with Sue Reynolds and James Dewar (one of my fellow program committee members), who I’d last seen at the Algonkian conference in the fall. I met a lot of authors, and bought a lot of books (!)
It was a wonderful experience. I just wish items like Hermione Granger’s Time Turner actually existed, so I could see and experience everything 😉
Coming up: I’ll be returning to my weekends-only schedule, starting with some long-overdue book reviews.