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Politics and the Pen in Support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, Ottawa

On May 15, Parliament Hill was the backdrop once again for the annual Politics and the Pen, a gala considered to be the highlight of Ottawa’s spring social calendar. It sees 500 or so writers and political types flood the Fairmont Château Laurier to raise funds for the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Politics and the Pen also serves as the gathering at which the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, now in its 19th year, is given. Rachel Giese took home the coveted award – and the $25,000 that accompanies it – for her debut book, Boys: What It Means to Become a Man (Patrick Crean Editions), which examines gender equity and perceptions of masculinity. To my right at dinner was Catherine Clark, a communications pro and vice-chair of the Writers’ Trust board, who chaired this latest do alongside Dan Mader, a partner at Loyalist Public Affairs. To my left was Kari Cullen, a Montreal-based arts consultant who chairs the Writers’ Trust board of directors. Among them at tables nearby, from the political side, was Speaker of the House of Commons Geoff Regan, MPs Karina Gould and Erin O’Toole who emceed the gala, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Among the authors out were Waubgeshig Rice, Charlotte Gray and Kerri Sakamoto. A substantial $345,000 was raised to support Writers’ Trust programs across Canada.

Biblio Bash in support of Toronto Public Library Foundation, Toronto

A couple of weeks earlier, on April 25, the Toronto Reference Library was the gathering place for the Biblio Bash, which this year raised an impressive $730,000. The funds will be directed to two of the organization’s myriad programs: TPL After School Clubs (which take place at 46 library branches) and a new bookmobile, an initiative that puts the magic of the library – including books, library staff and free WiFi – on wheels, to be enjoyed by those not in proximity to one of the 100 library branches in the city of Toronto. On co-chair duties for this latest was Claire McIntyre and Ellen Webster, with Victoria Webster serving as honorary chair. Authors dotted the room (and each table) at this one too, among them, André Alexis, Catherine Porter, Sheena Kamal and Claudia Dey.

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