Iva Cheung named winner of the 2019 Karen Virag Award


Toronto, June 10, 2019Iva Cheung of New Westminster, British Columbia, is the winner of the 2019 Karen Virag Award. This award, which comes with a $400 prize, recognizes exceptional efforts by an individual or organization to raise the profile of editing in their community. Virag, a highly accomplished member of the Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada), died in 2014.

Headshot of Iva Cheung

In the judges’ words, Cheung “cuts an important figure” and is “active in spreading the word about editing and Editors Canada.” Cheung uses a variety of media to send out frequent messages about what editors do and why editing is important. She is also a champion of plain language and clear communication.

“If the point of the award is to keep Karen Virag’s flame burning,” says awards judge Cy Strom, “Iva’s editorial excellence, intellectual striving, and the humour and breadth of her outreach beyond the traditional editorial community make her the perfect candidate.”

Cheung has a blog that features a monthly cartoon about editing, and she is a constant Twitter presence. As well, for four years in a row she created and produced an “unconference” for managing editors and publishing production specialists that went international.

On her blog Cheung regularly posts summaries of what speakers at Editors British Columbia meetings have said so that those who cannot attend—and others who want to know what editors are about—can share in this information. Her Twitter account (@IvaCheung), with more than 4,000 followers, is “lively, funny, caring and outspoken,” says a nominator. On this platform she actively promotes the plain language movement. She asks for more attention to access to information for Indigenous and marginalized communities, and reminds academics of the need for clarity and having their documents edited. At a number of conferences, she has live-tweeted reports of what she has learned from sessions.

The intended audience for Cheung’s cartoons is her fellow editors, but she has managed to find quite a few fans among non-editors. One of her nominators says, “They all have editor envy and want in on the joke.”

Cheung teaches plain language and indexing at SFU Continuing Studies and is a regular presenter at conferences and workshops. She has served on Editors Canada’s certification steering committee and taken on various roles in Editors British Columbia. She is a Certified Professional Editor and a winner of Editors Canada’s Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence (2011) and the President’s Award for Volunteer Service (2013). She is also working towards a PhD in knowledge transfer and mental health advocacy.

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Three respected Canadian editors made up the selection committee for the 2019 Karen Virag Award.

Janine Harker is a freelance editor who also works full-time for the Canadian government. She has been a member of Editors Canada since 2017.

Letitia Henville, the 2018 recipient of Editors Canada’s Claudette Upton Scholarship, is a freelance academic editor at shortishard.ca. Her academic writing advice column “Ask Dr Editor” appears in University Affairs.

Cy Strom, a friend and admirer of Karen Virag, has participated in Editors Canada standards and certification projects and has won Editors Canada’s Lee d’Anjou Volunteer of the Year Award.

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About Karen Virag

Karen Virag, a long-time member of Editors Canada’s Prairie Provinces branch, was the association’s director of publications from 2012 to 2013. In addition to co-chairing the association’s successful 2008 national conference in Edmonton and managing the production of Stylistic Editing: Meeting Professional Editorial Standards (2011), she represented Editors Canada for several years on the board of the Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC). Virag was supervising editor at the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and a freelance editor and writer. She regularly wrote book reviews for the Edmonton Journal and articles for The Tomato, a culinary magazine. She also volunteered for Arts on the Avenue, an Edmonton community initiative, and along with Virginia Durksen was well known as one of the Grammar Gals appearing regularly on Alberta at Noon, a CBC Radio One call-in program.

About Editors Canada

Editors Canada began in 1979 as the Freelance Editors’ Association of Canada to promote and maintain high standards of editing. In 1994, the word “Freelance” was dropped to reflect the association’s expanding focus to serve both freelance and in-house editors. As Canada’s only national editorial association, it is the hub for 1,300 members and affiliates, both salaried and freelance, who work in the corporate, technical, government, not-for-profit and publishing sectors. The association’s professional development programs and services include professional certification, an annual conference, seminars, webinars, and networking with other associations. Editors Canada has five regional branches: British Columbia; Saskatchewan; Toronto; Ottawa–Gatineau; and Quebec, as well as smaller branches (called twigs) in Barrie, Calgary, Edmonton, Manitoba, Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph, Hamilton/Halton, Kingston, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.


Media contact

Michelle Ou
Senior Communications Manager
Editors Canada
416 975-1379 / 1 866 226-3348

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