Yes, the Scotiabank Giller Light Bash is fun: bookworms, writers, literacy advocates, artistic directors, and patrons of the arts unite to watch book defenders champion each of the nominated titles, soak in a creative atmosphere, partake in contests and draws, enjoy dinner with friends, watch the prize announcement on a big screen, all while nursing a beverage or three. The Giller Bash is a time to celebrate Canadian literature while simultaneously raising funds for Frontier College’s literacy programs.
Six Giller Bashes occur simultaneously across the country; Halifax, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver each participate in this collective fundraising effort, making the GLB a nationwide affair. But how exactly are you, as an individual, making a difference in the lives of Canadians by attending and supporting this event? First, know that one hundred per cent of proceeds raised—from your admission ticket ($15), to every single raffle ticket you buy toward the array of donated raffle prizes (tickets $5 for 5)—go directly toward Frontier’s ability to deliver free literacy programs to children, youth and adults in high needs communities in Alberta (and beyond) such as inner city schools, public housing sites, low-income community centres, and women’s shelters.
Low literacy levels affect everyone, not only those who are challenged with reading. Low levels of literacy are interconnected with poverty, poor health, high unemployment, and high crime rates. We all want Albertans (and Canadians at large) to have the means to live stable, healthy, safe and crime-free lives, with opportunities to earn a living, and to engage in social, political, cultural and creative discussions. Most certainly, an investment in literacy is an investment in the future.
Since the inception of Calgary’s inaugural Giller Bash in 2010, we have raised over 10K for Frontier College programs in Alberta, and our event continues to grow every year. On November 7, 2016, over 200 WGA members and guests made their way to Calgary’s quaint Mission district for our 7th annual (sold-out) Bash. Here, a more detailed account of our impact:
$1,000 helps recruit, train, and mentor one volunteer tutor to work in Frontier College’s literacy programs.
$500 helps one child participate in an after-school program for one year.
$250 supports a literacy workshop for residents of a woman’s shelter.
$100 helps distribute 50 BOOKS to children and youth in low-income neighbourhoods.
Frontier College served 25,342 participants across Canada in 2016, including children attending Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps, and visitors to Frontier’s reading tents. They distributed 104,453 free books to children and families (value of the books at $1,044,530). Last Summer 6,124 children participated in 1,480 days of camp at Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps in 83 communities across Canada. Frontier works with 400 community partners across Canada (i.e. The Writers’ Guild of Alberta) to deliver quality literacy programs to children, youth and adults. This is very important work.
We are so grateful to the volunteer authors and literary personalities who agree to defend Giller-nominated titles each year. This year, we thank Kelsey Attard, Glenn Dixon, Micheline Maylor, Bradley Somer, Clea Young and Sheri-D Wilson for their time, enthusiasm and generosity. Another big thanks to 2012-Giller winning author Will Ferguson for joining us at the event, and for telling funny Giller dinner anecdotes after the live broadcast (…like forgetting to accept his cheque after winning the prize).
Will brought along his bonafide Giller trophy and let us run around with it while having our pictures taken. Needless to say, we hope to see Will at future Bashes, and to hear more of his ever-amusing stories. In the meantime, you can watch his (eloquent!) 2012 acceptance speech here, where he gives a big shout-out to the 2012 Calgary Giller party (…which was happening at the now defunct Rhino pub) that year. Side note: it’s weird and surreal to re/watch Jian Gomeshi as glitzy Giller host before his reputation devolved.
I would be remiss not to thank the local 4th Street businesses that donated sweet prizes to our raffle table this year. Thanks to Urban Barn, Yoga Santosha, Krickets Boutique, Fleur de Sel Brasserie, BIN 905, Roots 4th Street, Bistro Suzette, La Boulangerie Café, and Shelf Life Books. Please consider frequenting these places for your holiday shopping and meals out!
We hope you enjoy (and gain inspiration) from a second video clip where you can watch Will Ferguson talk about his writing life and offer poignant advice. Bonus: Rick Mercer introduces him and his novel, 419.
As some readers are aware, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta is a registered charity organization, and, like many non-profit arts organizations, we work with restricted budgets. Please consider donating to our programs and services; our ability to offer up-to-date and relevant information, resources, support, guidance and inspiration to writers and community through events, publications, conferences, mentorships and more.
Inspired by the success of the raffle draw at the Giller Bash (which raised nearly 1K for literacy programs), we will offer another excellent array of raffle prizes at our upcoming Calgary WGA Holiday Party to raise funds for the WGA. Huge thanks to the following artists and businesses for their support: West Elm, Butter Beauty Parlour, Magesty Industries, Cedar Mountain Studios, Steeling Home, Best Buy on 17th, The Tea Factory and Shelf Life Books. We hope to see you in front of the crackling fireplace at the Rose & Crown Pub on December 14, where we will hear from authors Arun Lakra, Susan Ouriou, and Rea Tarvydas!
Thanks to Trayton Turner for his excellent volunteer photography. All photos in this blog post are accredited to him. SEE ALL EVENT PHOTOS HERE!
Samantha Warwick is Program Director and Blogger for the WGA Calgary Office. Her first novel, Sage Island, was released in 2008. Her nonfiction and poetry have been broadcast on CBC Radio and appeared in various literary and commercial publications including Geist, Event, The Globe & Mail, Alberta Views and FASHION. Join her at the WGA Holiday Party on Wednesday, December 14 where the WGA is invited to socialize, eat, buy books, enjoy some raffle prize fun in support of WGA programs, and hear from the above-mentioned three brilliant authors.