Literacy Begins at Home
45¢ + 5¢
Date of Issue
September 9, 1996
Perforation or Dimension
13 x 12.5
Ashton-Potter Canada Limited.
Designed by Debbie Adams.
It doesn't happen often - only once other series in Canadian philatelic history - but when it does, stamp collectors the world over take a keen interest. On September 9, Canada Post will issue a semi-postal stamp in support of literacy. A semi-postal stamp release is one in which the face value of the stamp includes a surcharge, in this case 5 cents in support of family literacy programs in Canada. The only other Canadian semi-postal stamps were issued between the 17th of April, 1974 and the 7th of January, 1976 to support the Olympic Games in Montreal. This time, the surcharge will be donated to ABC CANADA, a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving literacy in Canada. Launched on International Literacy Day six years ago, ABC CANADA is run by leaders from business, education, government and labour, tasked with "raising awareness about literacy and getting the private sector involved in supporting literacy." The results of national literacy surveys suggest that 4.5 million Canadians cannot read, write or handle numbers well enough to deal with such common thing as bank accounts, job applications or even road signs. Illiteracy is personally frustrating, socially condemning and economically disastrous both for the person who cannot read and for the nation. As advocates of literacy awareness are quick to emphasize, Canada becomes a better place each time someone is newly acquainted with the power and magic of the written word. Philatelists will no doubt remember Canada Post's 1990 release honouring International Literacy Year. Designed by Debbie Adams, the stamp bore an image soon dubbed the word bird - a winged creation of letters and numbers from many languages signifying the freeing power of literacy. The release of that original stamp, with a number of associated fundraising initiatives on behalf of Canadian literary organizations, earned Canada Post the 1991 Corporate Humanities Award from the Canadian Federation of the Humanities. This September, Canada Post lifts literacy into the air again with another extraordinary design by Debbie Adams. This time, however, the stamp is a Canadian first! The stamp image is contained in an interlocking jigsaw puzzle, and a piece of the puzzle is missing...literally! With die-cut techniques, a piece of the puzzle has been cut out from the stamp while, in the foreground, the hand of an adult passes the missing piece to a child. It takes all the elements of picture and text to complete the puzzle, and the final message and theme of this year's campaign becomes clear - "literacy begins at home."
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 5, No. 5, 1996, p. 5-7.
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