At a ceremony in Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre tonight, Vancouver’s Alma Lee, founding director of the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival, was presented with the Writers’ Trust Award for Distinguished Contribution, awarded to an individual or organization for long-standing involvement with the Writers’ Trust and the Canadian literary community.
Previous winners include John Macfarlane, Graeme Gibson, and Pierre Berton.
ABOUT THE WINNER: Alma Lee was the founding Artistic Director of the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival, which has been one of Granville Island’s most prestigious cultural events since its inception in 1988. She also was the founding Executive Director of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Lee retired from the Writers Festival in 2006 and is pursuing a project to have Vancouver designated as a UNESCO World City of Literature. She has served on the Boards of AIDS Vancouver and the Alliance for Arts & Culture, as well as working with Simon Fraser University’s Writing and Publishing Program and Centre for Scottish Studies. She is a recipient of the Jack Award, YWCA Women of Distinction Award, and, in 2004, she became a Member of the Order of Canada.
CITATION: Alma Lee is an effective champion of Canadian authors whose advocacy has earned her the respect of the entire literary community. She developed a passion for Canadian writing and has since adeptly exercised that passion as a lobbyist, fundraiser, administrator, artistic director, and all-around champion of the cause we celebrate. As founding executive director of the Writers’ Trust, she helped outline the organization’s initial projects, which included a series of teaching resources on Canadian literature. Many of the organizational objectives she promoted remain cornerstones of the Writers’ Trust today – improving opportunities for talented writers, obtaining funds that can be provided to benefit authors, and the promotion of Canadian literature. In 1988 she founded what became the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival. As artistic director for more than 17 years Alma developed the festival into a hugely successful celebration of the written word, annually attracting more than 12,000 readers and writers to Granville Island for a week each October, earning Vancouver an international reputation as a place where writers and readers are cherished. Alma Lee is a treasure. Her accomplishments are inspiring. Her dedication has made the Canadian writing community stronger and her passion continues to draw us together.
ABOUT THE PRIZE: Established in 2005, this prize is presented annually to an individual or an organization in recognition of their long-standing involvement with the Writers' Trust of Canada. The award honours those individuals and organizations which, through their on-going commitment of time, energy, and resources, have given selflessly to shape and further the aims of the Writers' Trust. The winner of this prize is announced annually at the Writers’ Trust Awards event.
PHOTO: Recipients Alma Lee, David Adams Richards, Miranda Hill, Patrick deWitt, Wayne Johnston.