Virginia Durksen named winner of the 2017 Karen Virag Award

Grammar Gal recognized for promoting the editing profession

Toronto, June 12, 2017Virginia Durksen of Calgary, Alberta, is the winner of the 2017 Karen Virag Award, which recognizes exceptional efforts by an individual or organization to raise the profile of editing in their community. The award comes with a $400 cash prize and is named for a highly accomplished member of the Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada) who died in 2014.

Headshot of Virginia Durksen

Durksen’s career began more than 25 years ago. She started out as an editor and still takes on editing assignments, but over the years she has also become a teacher, public speaker and writer. Throughout her career, she has constantly promoted the editing profession: what it is and why we need it.

Today, Durksen’s core business is teaching writing and editing courses and workshops to corporations, government departments and various agencies. Through her work, Durksen invites workplace writers to “discover the power of clear words.” Students in her courses learn that they can and should edit their texts—by themselves, by asking peers to review them or, best of all, by hiring a professional editor. 

Outside of the classroom, Durksen is perhaps best known to radio listeners as one half of the Grammar Gals duo. Together with Virag, Durksen proposed and then participated in this regular call-in show for Alberta at Noon on CBC Radio One. Listeners across the province phoned in with questions about English grammar and usage, and complaints about how other people speak. They even called to have their own grammatical debates settled. This popular program, which ran from 2007 to 2014, was an excellent venue for promoting editors and editing.

“Karen Virag was a superlative friend and a singular woman. She had a great gift for inviting others to share her lifelong passion for language,” said Durksen. “I am honoured and deeply moved to receive an award in her memory.”

The Karen Virag Award honours heroes of editing—the individuals or organizations that champion our profession in their communities year after year. In their letter of support for Durksen, her nominators said, “Virginia absolutely glows when given an opportunity to speak in public, and her audience strongly responds to her enthusiasm and energy. The ‘editor’s personality’ generally involves avoiding the spotlight. Consequently, having Virginia in our ranks has been valuable: she is regularly out and about, telling people what editors do and why editors matter.”

Selection Committee

  • Benoit Arsenault (Québec City, Quebec), a freelance French-language editor, web writer and reviewer of French–English translations
  • Clare Cruickshank (Hamilton, Ontario), an editor with a background in accounting and mental health who will complete the Ryerson University Certificate in Publishing in 2017
  • Allen McAvoy (Kingston, Ontario), an editor with a background in journalism and public administration
  • Betty R. Robinson (Mississauga, Ontario), a senior developmental editor of school textbooks who has judged Editors Canada’s Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence and served on the association’s certification steering committee
  • Cy Strom (Toronto, Ontario), the 2010 Lee d’Anjou Volunteer of the Year for his contributions to Editors Canada’s Professional Editorial Standards

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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, guidelines for fair pay and working conditions, and networking with other associations. Editors Canada has five regional branches: British Columbia; Saskatchewan; Toronto; Ottawa–Gatineau; and Quebec/Atlantic Canada, as well as smaller branches (called twigs) in 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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