Letter from IBBY Canada President Mary Beth Leatherdale

What a year 2018 was for IBBY Canada!

In the spring of 2018, IBBY Canada launched a reading program for refugee claimants from 6-12 years old at the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre. In the fall, the Readers and Refugees program expanded to four locations around the city. Small teams of volunteers read at three COSTI Immigration Services shelters and the Christie Centre. More than 100 children participated in the program each week. And, thanks to our dedicated reading volunteers the program has been a great success. Now, the planning for the fall 2019 sessions begins! The four shelters are eager for the reading program to return. As well, other centres in Toronto would like to launch the program. And this fall, the program will be expanding beyond Toronto to Montreal and possibly Winnipeg.

In October 2018, we kicked off Nazim Kazemi’s residency for the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator Residence at Toronto Public Library’s Northern District branch, and we celebrated the launch of the From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books digital catalogue at Audreys Books in Edmonton.

As in previous years, IBBY Canada members devoted much effort and time to Canadian and International Awards and Honours that raise the profile of Canadian children’s books, authors and illustrators across the country and around the world. Julie Morstad was awarded the 2018 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award for Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, written by Kyo Maclear, published by Tundra Books. Deborah Ellis was nominated for the 2019 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. IBBY Canada’s nominations for the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award are Isabelle Arsenault (illustration) and Deborah Ellis (writing). Wonderful Canadian titles were also submitted to two international collections: the Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities and the Silent Books project.

A great deal of work went on behind the scenes as well. The IBBY Canada board created operations committees to lead strategy and decision making in the areas of finance, fundraising and communications. The finance committee met regularly to formalize IBBY Canada fiscal policies and procedures and financial reporting. We are pleased to announce that Fiona Crichton (CPA, CA) has accepted the position of IBBY Canada bookkeeper.

The fundraising committee launched a sponsorship campaign. We are grateful to our sponsors: Annick Press (Gold level), Groundwood Books, Greystone Books, Kids Can Press (Silver level), Portage & Main, Pajama Press and Running the Goat Books & Broadsides (Bronze level) for their support.

Our creative and enthusiastic communications committee has increased our social media presence through award announcements and a stellar campaign promoting the Indigenous Picture Book Collection. To support the release of the digital catalogue, a special edition of the newsletter, available here, was published and a Twitter campaign launched, highlighting one of the 100 recommended books every day. These efforts have been successful, drawing new interest to the organization and our activities. Of note, the Indigenous Picture Book Collection Twitter campaign garnered over 200,000 views from publisher, creators, institutions and organizations.

This year is already proving to be an equally exciting and productive year. For the first time, IBBY Canada will be hosting a general session at the 2019 IBBY Regional Conference in Austin, Texas, October 25-27, 2019. Canadian author/illustrators Elise Gravel, Qin Leng and Irene Luxbacher will share their experiences on a panel. As well, Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis and I will be doing a breakout session entitled “Book Catalogues and Building for Diversity: From Sea to Sea to Sea: Celebrating Indigenous Picture Books,”, sharing the feedback we’ve received on the From Sea to Sea to Sea digital catalogue.

This fall, the board is embarking on a strategic planning process. (Learn more below.)

None of the important work of 2018 — and ahead for 2019 — would be possible without the deep commitment and enthusiasm of so many. My personal thanks to all the dedicated IBBY Canada board members, awards and operations committee members, sponsors, volunteers and partners who have enthusiastically contributed and accomplished so much this year. A special thank you to all Reading and Refugee volunteers and all those involved with the creation and promotion of the Indigenous Picture Book Collection. You inspire me! With your passion and dedication, IBBY Canada will continue to thrive.

Mary Beth Leatherdale
President, IBBY Canada

p.s. Please scan through the attached PDF “Looking Ahead 2019/2020” for highlights of next year’s programming.

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Back to Summer 2019 Newsletter Home

Mary Beth Leatherdale, President, IBBY Canada
IBBY Canada Treasurer, Yvette Ghione
Iana Georgieva-Kaluba, Patsy Aldana, Catherine Mitchell and Emma Sakamoto
Theo Heras, 2nd Vice President, IBBY Canada
Katie Scott, IBBY Canada Member and Editor, Kids Can Press. Introducing Kathy Stinson