August 21, 2007: Capilano ESL instructor honoured for life’s work

      Tuesday, August 21, 2007
      Contact: Shelley Kean

      (NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C.)—Capilano ESL instructor and Westcoast Reader editor, Joan Acosta, is the recipient of British Columbia’s third annual Council of the Federation Literacy Award.

      “Literacy helps open doors in people’s lives – whether they’re learning English as a second language or learning to read for the first time as an adult,” said B.C.’s premier Gordon Campbell. “Joan has made a lifelong commitment to improving literacy skills in B.C. and beyond.”

      The Council of the Federation, which comprises all 13 provincial and territorial premiers, created the Council of the Federation Literacy Award on the initiative of Premier Campbell. Each province and territory chooses a recipient to receive a Council of the Federation Literacy Award medallion and a certificate signed by the premier of their province or territory.

      Over the past 25 years, Joan has helped raise awareness about issues related to adult literacy and has championed plain language to help make public information accessible to adults with low reading skills.

      In 1982, she became the driving force behind the Westcoast Reader, a newspaper for adult literacy and ESL learners in British Columbia. Assuming the roles of researcher, writer, editor and desktop publisher, she later helped others establish similar publications in Seattle and Nova Scotia. Today, Joan continues to share her expertise in adult literacy through workshops, conferences and visits to classrooms throughout the Lower Mainland.

      “Writing and producing materials for literacy-level learners has been my life’s work, and I am honoured to have my efforts recognized by this prestigious award,” Joan said.

      In 1987, the Westcoast Reader received a Leaders of Reader’s Literacy Award from Family Circle magazine and the Council for Periodical Distributors. It was the only Canadian project to win one of four $5,000 US awards for fighting literacy.

      Joan herself has received numerous individual awards, including the Order of British Columbia, which she received in 1994.

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