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Sep 26: Tragedy hits home for winning BC novelist

“Missing Women” tragedy hits home for winning BC novelist

Vancouver, September 26, 2004 – B.C. novelist Maggie de Vries’ personal novel about her missing sister from the Downtown Eastside, is the 2004 recipient of the Vancity Book Prize.

Published by Penguin Books, Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers her Vanished Sister, incorporates excerpts from Sarah de Vries’ journals and recollections of people who knew her. What emerges is a portrait of a bright, funny and sensitive woman who found herself trapped in a downward spiral of self-loathing, prostitution, drugs and violence. The novel was nominated for a Governor General’s award this year.

Holding an MA in English Literature, Maggie de Vries has taught children's literature at the University of Guelph and UBC. She has taught ‘Writing for Young Readers' at Langara College and has written the children's books “Once Upon a Golden Apple” (Penguin, 1991), “Chance and the Butterfly” (Orca, 2001) and “How Sleep Found Tabitha” (Orca, 2002). She has worked with Victoria-based Orca Books as an editor and has coordinated a writers' group with Vancouver prostitutes.

The Vancity Book Prize is the one of the most lucrative literary awards in B.C. It is designed to raise awareness of women’s issues while recognizing B.C. writers’ contribution to the literary community. “Vancity has a long-standing commitment to the arts, and recognition of women’s issues,” said Reva Dexter, Vancity Board Director and one of three judges for the award. “We’re thrilled to offer this prize.”

Winners receive $3,000 from Vancity, and $1,000 from the B.C. Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services to be donated to the charity of the winner’s choice. De Vries has chosen PACE (Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education) to receive it.

The two other finalists for the prize were Caroline Adderson’s “Sitting Practice” and David Stouck’s “Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography.”

Vancity is Canada’s largest credit union, with $9.3 billion in assets, 305,000 members, and 41 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity was chosen as the best place to work in Canada for 2005 by Maclean’s Magazine as part of its annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers issue. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.