In honour of International Literacy Day, Canada’s Premiers have announced the recipients of the 11th annual Council of the Federation Literacy Award. The award is presented each year to educators, volunteers, community organizations, and NGOs in each province who demonstrate outstanding achievement and innovation in promoting literacy.

In Newfoundland & Labrador, Premier Paul Davis presented the award to Russell Simms of Fortune. “I am very honoured to be the Newfoundland and Labrador recipient of this award,” Simms says. “In my experience, I believe that you truly are never too old to learn. I also want to say thank you to Mr. Gary Higgins, my Adult Basic Education (ABE) teacher at Keyin College, for his support and guidance.”

Mr. Simms entered Adult Basic Education at Keyin College in Fortune, after being out of school for more than 30 years. After completing the Adult Basic Education program, he went on to further post-secondary training and is now working as a registered apprentice carpenter.

Premier Davis says Mr. Simms certainly embodies all of the qualities that this award recognizes. “His success in his education and career make him an outstanding example of what individuals can achieve through the pursuit of literacy.”

These Canada-wide awards were created in 2005 by Canada’s premiers to recognize the valuable contributions of Canadians in the field of literacy, particularly in the areas of family, Aboriginal groups, health, workplace, and community literacy.

They coincide with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization International Literacy Day, with this year’s theme being Literacy and Sustainable Societies. Government says they recognize that focusing on literacy and skills development is essential to help the province fill available jobs and sustain economic development for future generations.

In the past decade, the Provincial Government has invested $80.3 million in adult literacy initiatives such as Adult Basic Education.