Organization & History

Organization & History

New Willow Awards Promotional Videos

Need help explaining why everyone should participate in reading the Willow finalists this year? We have two new videos for you!

The longer one (3 minutes), is directed towards adults including details about the awards and how to get involved.


The shorter video (1 minute), is intended for a student audience. We hope that you will share these with everyone!


What Are The Willow Awards? – Regina Teachers’ Convention Presentation March 2021

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards is a volunteer-run, non-profit, registered charity begun in 2001.

The mission of SYRCA – Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards – The Willow Awards, Inc. is to promote reading and celebrate Canadian literature.  Each year, Saskatchewan children and youth vote for Willow Award recipients from finalists nominated in three award categories.

The three categories were established to encourage participation by all children, regardless of the level at which they are reading. They include:

  • The Shining Willow Award for books written for young readers
  • The Diamond Willow Award for books written for upper elementary readers in grades 4 to 6
  • The Snow Willow Award for books written for readers in grades 7 & up

Participation in the Willow Awards is free to Saskatchewan children and youth. They may vote for their favourite book in any category in which they have read the minimum number of books required. Individuals may vote. Teachers, librarians or teacher-librarians can submit tallies of votes made in their buildings.

In the first year of voting, 2002, more than 5,000 voters participated. In recent years, the number of votes collected has increased to more than 15,000.

Ballots and how to vote for the current Willow Awards may be found under the VOTE tab on the home page.

SYRCA publishes posters, bookmarks, and award stickers. We also manage a website to provide activities and information related to the nominated books, authors and illustrators.

The Willow Awards Gala is held annually where authors of the students’ favourite books are presented with their Willow Awards.

Each fall, schools and libraries are invited to submit the ideas and activities they have conducted around the Willows to be eligible for book prizes.

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice – The Willow Awards Inc. depends on membership donations and sponsorships to operate. Please consider a membership donation. Our charity business number is: 87530 3919 RR0001. Download a donation form from our home page. Tax receipts are issued for donations of $25 or more and for donations under $25, upon request.

“Thanks for giving us the opportunity to participate! I get so much positive feedback from both the students and teachers!”

Adele Green, Outlook Elementary School

Author Ashley Spires 2012 Shining Willow Award Winner for Small Saul




History of SYRCA

Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards

– The Willow Awards, Inc.



The current board of SYRCA – The Willow Awards, Inc., (2021-2022), has collaborated over the last 2 years to bring together a variety of activities to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the Willow Awards in our province. These include: 

  • An anniversary logo 
  • Posters (online) recognizing the 20 years of winners in each of the categories 
  • Contests for teachers to win author visits/readings for their classrooms
  • An advertisement in the the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation publication, The Bulletin 
  • Press releases and history documents posted online (Part 1 in September 2021, Part 2 in April 2022, and Part 3 in June 2022) 
  • PDF documents of all 20 years of the Annual Reports and posters uploaded to the website 

The purpose of these anniversary activities has been to celebrate The Willows’ longevity with our readers and to acknowledge the work of the many volunteers who have held board positions, served on reading committees, and supported our fundraisers over the years. As well we wanted to acknowledge our corporate sponsors. The Willows could not have had such a sustained impact without these individuals, businesses and corporate entities. We also wanted to encourage continued involvement in The Willows and enlist new interest in these awards. We have gathered historical documentation not only to celebrate this milestone but to provide a point from which the organization can move forward.  

These documents have been compiled from reports and from the memories of a variety of individuals. Some inconsistencies may appear as a result of these different perspectives. This doesn’t change the richness of The Willows’ history.  

Part 1 of the history documents key dates and happenings in the formation of The Willow Awards. Part 2 outlines details of the work during the ensuing 20 years including copies of posters, information about sponsorships, launches, galas, the 10th anniversary celebration and more.

Changes in the organization have included several iterations of the website, a few versions of the logo, various marketing approaches, outreach, and fund-raising events including Buffet and Books, Noodles and Books, Books at the Bistro, and the 2021 Mystery Book Grab. 

Throughout the years, there have been ongoing additions of policies and practices. An example is the addition of live streaming the gala which has brought this exciting celebration to students throughout the province. Recently, the impact of Covid-19 on the gala resulted in moving the whole event to an online format.  

Most importantly, through this recount, we offer gratitude to the many people who have shared a vision of providing student and adult readers with recommendations around high quality Canadian children’s literature. As you read the documents, you will find that many activities have been initiated, changed, adapted, and retried.  These changes don’t alter the mission and objectives of the organization.  

The strength of The Willows is in the solid foundation, clear purpose, and commitment to the vision that began over 20 years ago.  

Here’s to the future.   

Board of Directors 
SYRCA – The Willow Awards Inc.  
March 2022 

Part 1 – The Initial Years

2000 Early in 2000, an idea began percolating in the minds of the executive of the Saskatchewan School Library Association. It was recognized by the president at the time, Carol Thiessen, that many provinces had a Children’s Choice award, and perhaps it was time for Saskatchewan to develop a similar award.

May 2000 At a Saskatchewan School Library Association (SSLA) board meeting following the AGM and conference, the secretary, Judy Nicholson, agreed to strike an Ad Hoc committee that would review options for a Saskatchewan children’s choice award and make recommendations to the SSLA board. 

October /November 2000 A committee of four was struck and met in the Thunder Creek School Division board office in early October. In November, the SSLA board accepted the report and made a decision to contract Marion Perry to study the feasibility of creating an independent association and determining the necessary process. 

Winter 2001: A Grassroots Project as a Pilot – Judy Nicholson applied for a Grassroots grant to develop a website as a pilot for the Willow Awards. Members of the committee, Stephanie Olsen, Lori Rog, Lynn Gilbert, and the website developer selected books for three age categories: Kindergarten to Grade 3, Grade 4 to 8 and Grade 10 to 12. Each list of books contained at least one Saskatchewan author. The website was used to share information and register votes. By the conclusion of the pilot, there were about 30 teachers involved and votes collected from approximately 600 young readers across the categories. 

August 31, 2001 SYRCA was established as a non-profit organization. 

September 15, 2001 – The Inaugural Board Meeting The following people were the first members of the Willow Awards Board. 

President – Marion Perry 
Vice President – Lynn Gilbert 
Vice President – Claire Issac 
Secretary – Liz Roberts 
Treasurer – Margaret Steger 
SSLA Rep – Carol Thiessen 
SLA Rep – Caroline Selinger 
Director – Judy Nicholson 
Director – Lori Rog 
Director – Maureen Erlendson 

At this meeting, the purpose of the Willow Awards was formally established. The mission of SYRCA would be to promote and celebrate Canadian literature. Each year, Saskatchewan children and youth would vote for Willow Award recipients from finalists nominated in three award categories. 

Funding was provided in the start up year by: SSLA ($5000) and Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA) (committed $500-$1000). The board decided to use SLA’s email policy of the day. As well, the board applied to receive charitable status. 

March 2, 2002 – It was determined that there would be a media launch of the Willow Awards on Saturday, October 19th, 2002 in conjunction with Saskatchewan Library Week. The first awards ceremony was held at Dr. John G. Egnatoff School in Saskatoon on May 30, 2003. 

April 27, 2002 Attendees at the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA) Conference appeared interested and excited about the Willow Awards. Both library board members and librarians took packages back to their respective libraries. Saskatoon children’s librarians had already had a meeting and discussed the awards and how they might become involved. 

Liz Roberts sent a thank you to SSLA for its support in initiating this project and providing financial support for the first two years. SSLA was given special recognition at the first gala. . 

SLA determined that a link to the Willow Awards website would be created from the SLA website and there would be information about the Willow Awards in each issue of The Forum (SLA journal). 

September 28, 2002 An article about the Willows was shared. It was written by President Marion Perry for The Forum. Link to pdf.

The marketing committee planned media kits that included a bookmark, a copy of the Forum article, a one-page document that linked the Willow Awards launch to both Education Week and Saskatchewan Library Week, and other information. 

Vice -President Claire Issac suggested to members of SLA that they could select The Willow Awards as the theme for the next summer reading program through the public library system. 

October 19, 2002 This marked the launch of the first Award Cycle at Grant Road School in Regina, coinciding with Saskatchewan Education Week and Saskatchewan Library Week. 

Grant Road School was so honored to be chosen to host the first Launch of the Willow Awards. Teacher-Librarian Janice Flaman, Middle Years Teacher Phyllis Mulvenna, and Grade One Teacher Donna Koch helped to plan the event.  It was held in the school library on Friday, October 18, 2002, and was attended by invited guests. 

The entire school was involved in some way. Every class read the Willow nominated books, and helped to decorate the hallways and bulletin boards with wonderful art related to the books. Older students volunteered to do “Book Fair” projects and display and explain them in the library before and after the Launch ceremony. Mrs. Koch’s Grade One class did a skit acting out the nominated book “Emma’s Cold Day” by Margriet Ruurs. 

Marion Perry unveiled the actual Willow Award, made by Cupar Glass artist Jacqueline Berting, that would be presented to the winning authors. The Board members of the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards were introduced, and the media and School Boards helped to spread the word about the Awards to the general public and to schools throughout the province. Link to Leader Post Article.

November 2002 SYRCA became a registered charity. 

May 23, 2003 The first Awards Gala, attended by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, was held at Dr. John G. Egnatoff School in Saskatoon. 

Since that first Awards Gala in 2003, the Willow Awards have continued much as they were originally planned. SaskEnergy sponsored the Gala and has continued its support to the present. While there have been slight variations in the annual cycle of the awards and the policies and procedures have evolved, the Willow Awards continues to provide a venue to expose the young readers of Saskatchewan to quality Canadian literature. 

Part 2 – Some Highlights From the Last 20 Years

2011 – Celebrating 10 Years!

2011 was a special year for SYRCA as this was the 10th year of nominees and award winners. To celebrate, the Board chose two main initiatives.  First, they wanted a special poster that would go to all schools and public libraries, which would have meaning for all. They felt that Gainer the Gopher, the Saskatchewan Roughrider mascot, would be representative of all of Saskatchewan. As they were promoting a “Reader Nation”, they chose a group of children that would represent gender and ethnic diversity, reading with their buddy, Gainer. The poster was entitled “Huddle Up With Willow Books”.  A copy was also given to each child attending the Gala in Moose Jaw on April 27, 2012.

Gainer 10th Anniversary Poster

The second initiative invited adults (teacher librarians, technicians, teachers and others) to submit their intention to participate this year. These names were then entered to win an author visit and a complete set of 2011 nominees, and books by the visiting author. Over 100 entries were received, from which 10 winners were randomly drawn, to represent 10 school divisions.  The winners were: 

  • Alycia Duplantie, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation School Loon Lake.  Visiting author – Leah Dorian
  • Donna Lee Austring, Central School, Swift Current. Visiting author – Rebecca Grambo
  • Angela Nordstrum, Red Wing Elementary School, Prince Albert. Visiting author – Alice Kuipers
  • Laurel Kentel, Churchbridge Public School, Churchbridge.  Visiting author – Maureen Ulrich
  • Charmaine Stouse, McClurg School, Regina. Visiting author – Peter Eyvindson
  • Adele Green, Outlook Elementary School, Outlook. Visiting author – Ashley Spires
  • Carol Edquist, Valley View School/Beauval Public Library, Beauval. Visiting author – Leah Dorion
  • Leanne Miller, Pleasantdale School, Estevan. Visiting author – Alison Lohans
  • Melody McPherson, Pilot Butte School, Pilot Butte. Visiting author – Maureen Ulrich
  • Diane Barsi, Holliston School, Saskatoon. Visiting author – Dr. Beverly Brenna

Past Presidents

  • 2001-2005 – Marion Perry
  • 2006-2007 – Claire Isaac
  • 2008-2010 – Florence Barton
  • 2011-2014 – Ruth Garnett
  • 2015-2016 – Cassandra Mireau/Amy Korver
  • 2017-2023 – Erin Walton

The SYRCA Recognition Award Recipients

The SYRCA Recognition Award is available to an individual who has brought considerable benefit to The Willow Awards or who has assisted with a program or project important to The Willow Awards. A suggested minimum of three years significant service must have been rendered to qualify for this award. The Board has gratefully acknowledged the efforts of the following individuals who have received this award.

  • 2007 – Muriel Drew, Eleanor Matz, Elsbeth Dormuth, Kathy Sharman
  • 2013 – Margaret Lipp
  • 2014 – Jocelyn Provost
  • 2018 – Donna Lindstrom & Erin Walton (gala liaisons acknowledgement)
  • 2019 – Donna Lindstrom
  • 2021 – Heather Dolmage
  • 2022 – Judy Nicholson

The SYRCA Distinguished Service Award Recipients

The SYRCA Distinguished Service Award was created to recognize extraordinary service, effort or example by an individual, which resulted in outstanding benefit to a program or project important to The Willow Awards. A suggested minimum of five years distinguished service must have been rendered to qualify for this award. The Board has gratefully acknowledged the efforts of the following individuals who have received this award.

  • 2007 – Carol Thiessen, Chris MacLennan
  • 2008 – Deborah Mervold
  • 2009 – Marion Perry
  • 2010 – Claire Isaac, Margaret Steger
  • 2011 – Wilfred Burton
  • 2014 – Naomi Kral, Val Gerrard
  • 2015 – Florence Barton, Donna Koch
  • 2016 – Ann Atchinson, Ruth Garnett
  • 2017 – Cassandra Mireau
  • 2019 – Melody Wood, Yvonne Denomy
  • 2020 – Amy Korver
  • 2022 – Elann McChesney

Past Financial Patrons, Sponsors and Friends of SYRCA

The Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards – The Willow Awards has been fortunate to be supported by many businesses and corporations over the last twenty years. 

From 2000 to 2002 the Saskatchewan School Library Association provided funding to research and initiate the concept of a young readers’ choice award for the province, and then to contract Marion Perry to develop and launch an organization to make it a reality. 

In 2002, the Saskatchewan Library Association donated $500 to the fledgling SYRCA Willow Awards. Other associations made in-kind donations. 

In 2003, the Saskatchewan Schools Library Association donated $5000 as seed money to launch the awards and provide for a Gala celebration. SaskCulture awarded the Willows a grant of $6,800 with the expectation that it be used to develop a self-sustaining program. 

It is also notable that in 2003, SaskEnergy, our longest-standing Patron, began supporting the Willow Awards. In response to their generous donation, the yearly awards ceremony was named “The Willow Awards SaskEnergy Gala.” From that time until present day, a representative of SaskEnergy has been invited to speak at the Gala. 

In 2004, another long-standing donor, United Library Services, began donating funds to the Willow Awards. In the years that followed, ULS not only donated funding, they also donated a full set of the next year’s nominated books to the school or library hosting the Gala. 

Beginning in 2009, The Willow Awards recognized five different supporter levels: Gold Patron $5,000 or more; Silver Patron $3,000 – $4,999; Bronze Patron $1,000 – $2,999; Sponsors $500 – $999; and Friends $100 – $499. 

To recognize our Patrons, Sponsors and Friends, the Willow Awards promote their name and company logo on our website. Patrons who donate $1,000 or more are further recognized by having their corporate logo added to The Willow Award poster, bookmarks and AGM booklet. 

We are grateful for the support of our sponsors which allows the The Willow Awards to continue to provide Saskatchewan children with quality Canadian literature, encouraging them to read and find their own voices as they choose a winning author.


  • Patrons – Saskatchewan Library Association; 
  • Sponsors – National Book Service, Direct West


  • Patrons – SaskEnergy, Saskatchewan School Library Association, SaskCulture; 
  • Sponsors – Teachers Credit Union, Saskatchewan Library Association, SaskEd; 
  • Friends – Saskatoon Kinsmen


  • Patrons –  SaskEnergy, Book & Brier Patch, SaskCulture; 
  • Sponsors – Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina Public Library, Saskatchewan School Library Association; 
  • Friends – United Library Services, National Book Service


  • Patrons – Book & Brier Patch, SaskCulture, SaskEnergy, Saskatchewan Lotteries; 
  • Sponsors –  Saskatchewan School Library Association, McNally Robinson Booksellers, National Book Service


  • Patrons – Book & Brier Patch, SaskCulture, SaskEnergy, Saskatchewan Lotteries; 
  • Sponsors – McNally Robinson Booksellers, National Book Service


  • Patrons – SaskEnergy, Saskatchewan Smart Literacy Commission, Book & Brier Patch, Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix;
  • Sponsors –  National Book Service


  • Patrons – SaskEnergy, Anonymous Donor, Conexus Credit Union, TD Waterhouse, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Sask Smart Literacy Commission, Book & Brier Patch; 
  • Sponsors – Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, SaskTel, National Car Rental; 
  • Many individuals made small donations as well


  • Gold Patron – SaskSmart Literacy Commission
  • Silver Patron – Conexus Credit Union
  • Bronze Patrons – Evraz Inc., Book & Brier Patch, Garnett Industries, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Quantum Capital Corporation, SaskEnergy
  • Sponsors – United Library Services, Regina LeaderPost, Saskatoon StarPhoenix


  • Gold Patron – Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
  • Silver Patrons – Conexus Credit Union, SaskEnergy
  • Bronze Patrons – Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Book & Brier Patch, Evraz Inc., Garnett Industries
  • Sponsors – United Library Services


  • Gold Patrons – Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan 
  • Silver Patrons Conexus Credit Union, SaskEnergy 
  • Bronze Patrons Book & Brier Patch, Evraz Inc., Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, United Library Services, LDM Foods, Garnett Industries Ltd., McKercher LLP Barristers & Solicitors


  • Gold Patron Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
  • Silver Patrons Conexus Credit Union, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader Post, Access Communications Children’s Fund, SaskEnergy, RBC Royal Bank 
  • Bronze Patrons Book & Brier Patch, Evraz Inc., United Library Services, Garnett Industries Ltd., Cameco, Areva, Mitch of Canada
  • Sponsors – Saskatchewan Ministry of Education 


  • Gold Patron PotashCorp 
  • Silver Patrons Evraz, SaskEnergy, Regina Leader Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Conexus Credit Union 
  • Bronze Patrons Book & Brier Patch, United Library Services, Garnett Industries Ltd., Cameco, Areva, Redhead Equipment, SGI


  • Gold Patrons PotashCorp, HJ Linnen Associates  
  • Silver Patrons SaskEnergy, Evraz Inc., Conexus Credit Union, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader Post
  • Bronze Patrons – Book & Brier Patch, Areva, Cameco, Garnett Industries Limited, SGI, Redhead Equipment, United Library Services


  • Gold Patrons PotashCorp, Evraz Inc. 
  • Silver Patrons SaskEnergy, Cameco, MGM Communications
  • Bronze Patrons – Book & Brier Patch, Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, United Library Services 


  • Gold Patrons PotashCorp, Reading Sparks 
  • Silver Patrons SaskEnergy, Cameco, HJ Linnen Associates 
  • Bronze Patron Book & Brier Patch


  • Silver Patron SaskEnergy
  • Bronze Patrons P3A, Book & Brier Wholesale 


  • Gold Patron Access Communications Children’s Fund 
  • Silver Patron SaskEnergy 
  • Bronze Patrons Book & Brier Wholesale, Cameco, P3A, SaskTel Pioneers, United Library Services
  • Sponsor – McNally Robinson 


  • Gold Patron Access Communications Children’s Fund 
  • Silver Patron SaskEnergy 
  • Bronze Patrons Cameco, P3A, United Library Services
  • Sponsor – McNally Robinson


  • Gold Patron Access Communications Children’s Fund 
  • Silver Patron SaskEnergy – unlisted on poster due to elections 
  • Bronze Patrons Cameco, SaskTel Pioneers, 
  • Sponsors – United Library Services, Hi-Tec Profiles Inc., Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan
  • Friends – Saskatchewan Literacy Network


  • Silver Patron SaskEnergy 
  • Bronze Patrons Cameco, SaskTel Pioneers, 
  • Sponsors – United Library Services, Hi-Tec Profiles Inc., McNally Robinson
  • Friends – Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan – Regina Chapter, Saskatchewan Literacy Network


  • Gold Patron – Access Communications Children’s Fund
  • Silver Patron – SaskEnergy
  • Bronze Patrons – Cameco, United Library Services, SaskTel, SaskTel Pioneers
  • Sponsors – McNally Robinson
  • Friends – Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Library Association, Sharon Konanz, Hit-Tech Profiles Inc.

20 Years of Voting History 

The Willow Awards has shown a remarkable increase in the numbers of votes submitted each year. We are thankful for the help of our financial supporters who have made this possible. We especially want to acknowledge the adults in school settings, libraries and homes who have gone the extra mile to encourage their young readers to read Willow finalist titles. Your creativity and hard work is greatly appreciated!

Our numbers have fallen sharply in these last few years as everyone has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning was interrupted through these years and the logistics of students signing out books was more complicated. Taking books home to read was not always possible. We fear that the voting numbers may also have been affected by a decrease in teacher-librarian and library support personnel time across the province. teacher-librarians were once our biggest promoters and we are noticing fewer vote submissions made by teacher-librarians and library technicians in these last years. We are seeking further ways that The Willows can be introduced and promoted in schools.


Year Teachers/


Schools Libraries Communities Snow Diamond Shining Total Voters
2002-2003 180 83 2 59 5,000
2003-2004 195 114 1 61 7,514
2004-2005 129 84 5 73 5,523
2005-2006 151 132 4 65 7,262
2006-2007 204 207 3 74 189 839 7,059 8,087
2007-2008 185 148 1 68 237 783 8,688 9,708
2008-2009 206 161 0 77 262 769 9,059 10,090
2009-2010 189 166 2 83 526 1,239 9,326 11,134
2010-2011 215 183 1 100 520 1,252 10,582 12,354
2011-2012 593* 1,400* 12,270* 13,263*
2012-2013 602 1,145 10,871 12,618
2013-2014 423 1,092 11,839 13,354
2014-2015 572 866 12,680 14,118
2015-2016 307 883 9,901 11,040
2016-2017 398 1,230 13,898 15,524
2017-2018 181* 941 11,144 12,266
2018-2019 320 1,061 11,213 12,594
2019-2020 181 448 3,652 4,347*
2020-2021 144 440 5,728 6,312*
2021-2022 208 626 6,700 7,534*
2022-2023 89 539 6,856 7,484
*2011-2012 These numbers are approximate as there is a slight discrepancy between reports.
*2017-2018 Snow numbers were reported in the Annual Report inaccurately but corrected in the following year’s report.
*2019-2020 We know that the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected participant numbers.
*2020-2022 COVID-19 continued to present challenges for learning. 
As well, our numbers may have been affected by a decrease in Teacher-librarian time across the province.


Launch Winners

In the fall of each voting cycle, we have encouraged teachers, teacher-libarians, librarians, library technicians and parents to submit short explanations and/or pictures of how they have or will introduce the new Willow finalists to their readers. We have had some creative submissions! Initially, winners were chosen to host a launch event and win a set of Willow finalist books. In later years, we began to randomly select schools to win sets of Willow finalists. Here are the schools that have hosted launch events or won books over the years:

Launch Events

  • 2003 – Ecole Wagner Community School, Nipawin
  • 2004 – Kincaid School, Kincaid
  • 2005 – Kennedy Langbank School, Kennedy
  • 2006 – Little Red River School, Montreal Lake
  • 2007 – Elizabeth School, Kindersley

Launch Book Recipients


  • Winner – Brevoort Park School, Saskatoon
  • Runners Up – Dr. Hanna, Regina, Ethel Milliken, Regina, Lindale School, Moose Jaw, Eyebrow School, Mortlach School


  • Winner – St. Paul School, Yorkton
  • Runners Up – Ecole St. Pius X, Regina, St. John Community School, Prince Albert, Frontier School, Frontier 


  • Winner – Minahik Waskahigan School, Pinehouse Lake
  • Runners Up – Lindale School, Moose Jaw, Miller Elementary Schoo, Melville, Holy Trinity Catholic School, Moose Jaw, Frontier School, Frontier 


  • Winner – Cutknife High School, Cutknife
  • Runners Up – Frontier School, Frontier, Lindale School, Moose Jaw, Alameda School, Alameda


  • Winner – Lucky Lake School, Lucky Lake 
  • Runners Up – William Mason School, Choiceland, Fort Livingstone School, Pelly, St. Francis School, Prince Albert


  • Winners – Clive Draycott School, Bethune, Mossbank School, Mossbank, William Mason School, Choiceland
  • Runners Up – South Shore School, Regina Beach, St. Francis School, Prince Albert, Grant Road School, Regina


  • Winner – Dr. John G. Egnatoff School, Saskatoon
  • Runners Up – Eyebrow School, Eyebrow, Dr. Perry School, Regina, Rosetown Central High School, Rosetown
  • Other Miscellaneous Prizes – PJ Gillen School, Esterhazy, Carrot River School, Carrot River, Brunswick School, Melfort, Lakeridge School, Saskatoon, Springside School, Springside, William Mason School, Choiceland, Ecole St. Henry’s Jr. Elementary School


  • Winner – Minahik Waskahigan School, Pinehouse Lake
  • Runners Up – St. Michael School, Prince Albert, Albert Community School, Regin, Wagner Elementary School, Nipawin, Rosetown Central High School, Rosetown


  • Winner – Colony School, Sun West Colony Schools
  • Runners Up – McVeety School, Regina, Lipton School, Lipton, Maple Creek Composite High School, Rivier School, Prince Albert, Davidson School, Davidson
  • Other Miscellaneous Prizes – Dr. Perry School, Regina, Pleasantdale School, Estevan, Rosetown Central School, Rosetown


  • Winner – Punnichy Elementary Community School, Punnichy
  • Runners Up – Kerrobert Composite School, Kerrobert, Deshaye Catholic School, Regina, Harbour Landing Public School, Regina
  • Other Miscellaneous Prizes – Maymont Central School, Maymont, Maude Burke Elementary School, Brunswick Lloydminster Comprehensive High School, Lloydminster, Judge Bryant Elementary School, Regina, Rosetown Central High School, Rosetown


  • Winner – Punnichy Elementary School, Punnichy
  • Runners Up – Kerrobert Composite School, Deshaye Catholic School, Regina, Harbour Landing Public School, Regina
  • Other Miscellaneous Prizes – Maymont Central School, Maymont, MaudeBurke Elementary School, Melfort, Davin Elementary School, Regina, Lloydminster Comprehensive High School, Lloydminster, JudgeBryant Elementary School, Regina, Rosetown Central High School, Rosetown


  • Winner – Outlook Highschool, Outlook
  • Runners Up – Ruth Pawson School, Regina, Traditions Elementary School, Warman, Schell School, Holdfast, Ecole Vickers Public School, Prince Albert, Indian Head Public Library, Rosetown Central High School, Rosetown
  • Other Miscellaneous PrizesRegina Christian School, Regina, Westcliffe School, Westcliffe, Dr. Perry Elementary School, Regina, McVeety Elementary School, Regina


  • Winners – St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School, Saskatoon, Henry Braun School, Regina, Archerwill School, Archerwill
  • Other Miscellaneous PrizesOutlook  Elementary School, Outlook, Kincaid School, Kincaid, Deshaye Catholic School, Regina, Hanley Composite School, Hanley, Punnichy Elementary School Punnichy, Reynolds Central School, Melfort, Rosetown Central High School, Rosetown


  • WinnersOungre Public Library and Lyndale School, Oungre
  • Runners Up – Ecole Holy Mary School, Martensville, Judge Bryant School, Regina, Fox Valley School, Fox Valley
  • Other Miscellaneous PrizesCupar School, Cupar, Valley Centre Colony School, Henry Braun, Regina, Ecole Connaught School, Regina


  • Winner – Archerwill School
  • Runners Up – Kincaid Central School – Kincaid, St. Mary’s School – Yorkton, Ethel Milliken School – Regina, Ruth Pawson School – Regina, Englefeld School – Yorkton, Dr. Brass School – Yorkton

Gala Hosts

  • 2003Dr. John G. Egnatoff School, Saskatoon
  • 2004 – Jack MacKenzie and St. Gabriel School, Regina
  • 2005 – Mother Teresa School, Regina
  • 2006 – Lindale School, Moose Jaw
  • 2007 – Swift Current Public Library, Swift Current
  • 2008 – North Park Wilson School, Saskatoon
  • 2009 – Lumsden Elementary, Lumsden
  • 2010 – Saltcoats School, Saltcoats
  • 2011 – John Diefenbaker School, Prince Albert
  • 2012 – Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, Moose Jaw
  • 2013 – Davidson School, Davidson
  • 2014 – St. Patrick School, Swift Current
  • 2015 – Assiniboia Park Elementary School, Weyburn
  • 2016 – MacNeill Elementary School, Regina
  • 2017 – Ecole Forest Grove School, Saskatoon
  • 2018 – Warman Community Middle School, Warman
  • 2019 – St. Angela School, Saskatoon
  • 2020 – Wilfred Hunt School, Regina (1st Covid version)
  • 2021 – Wilfred Hunt School, Regina (2nd Covid version)
  • 2022 – Regent Place Public Library, Regina
  • 2023 – Perdue School, Perdue

Part 3 – Anniversary Activities 2021-2022

The Willow Awards 20th Anniversary Celebrations!

2021 has been a special time for SYRCA as we have been celebrating our 20th anniversary of bringing quality Canadian children’s literature to the children and youth of our province. Over 20 years, there have been a total of 600 nominated books, and 60 winners – all quality Canadian children’s literature. The thousands of children and youth involved in reading and voting for their favourite books over this time is huge! 


To help commemorate this milestone, we wanted to encourage schools, classrooms and libraries to engage in a variety of student opportunities for enrichment associated with this special event. The current board of SYRCA, (2021-2022), collaborated over the last 2 years to bring together resources and activities to mark this important milestone in the history of The Willow Awards in our province. These include: 

Branding/marketing – A special 20th anniversary logo was created to be used throughout the year as well as a poster for each award that showcased the winners for the past 19 years. These posters were available to download as a PDF on the Willow Awards website. See link to the anniversary posters.

Honouring the History –  Articles recapping the history of the awards was researched, compiled, circulated and posted on the website along with documents from the past 20 years. Part I – the chronological timeline; Part 2 – a compilation of all the activities and statistics over the 20 years, and Part 3 – soon to be released recap of the anniversary year activities.  History document is halfway down the following webpage The annual reports as well as the posters for each year were also posted on the website.   

Promotions – Regular articles, press releases, and ads were published to highlight the events of the anniversary year. This included an advertisement in the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation publication, The Bulletin (print and online) and an interview on CBC radio’s Saskatchewan Weekend hosted by Shauna Powers. 

SLA Distinguished Service AwardOn May 6, 2022 at the Awards Luncheon of the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA), The Willows were presented with the first ever SLA Distinguished Service Award.  To accept the award on behalf of SYRCA Inc. was board member Joanne Patron.. The SYRCA Inc Board is grateful to have her work and that of her predecessors recognized for its impact in Saskatchewan.

When a group or organization is identified as having contributed significantly to literacy, life-long learning and fostering a love of reading in Saskatchewan, SLA recognizes that contribution with this award on behalf of the province’s library community.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary as an organization this year, The Willow Awards have been contributing to Saskatchewan libraries and youth literacy since its inception. One of its most significant contributions has been providing curated lists of high-quality literature accompanied by suggested activities that encourage youth in their reading adventures. This project has also brought together a community of adults who are passionate about children’s literature.

The Willow Awards’ programs have drawn participants from many communities and enhanced the literary landscape for young readers across the province, supporting Saskatchewan’s public and school libraries in the process.

Two Contests – With the help of many of our 2021 Willow finalist authors, one of the most exciting opportunities we provided this year were our two contests, running from September – March. For both contests, we received entries from across the province. It was exciting to see them come in! The first contest was the 20th Anniversary All-Star Contest where we asked Willow promoters to send us pictures of the Willow books that they have in their library collections. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to find these great titles and bring them to the attention of their library patrons!

Our All-Star Authors were:

  • Linda Bailey, author of Princesses vs. Dinosaurs (Shining finalist 2021) and If Kids Ruled the World (Shining winner 2015). Robert Southey School, Southey was the winner of a zoom visit with her.
  • Gordon Korman, author of The Unteachables (Snow finalist 2021), Swindle (Diamond winner 2009), Masterminds (Diamond winner 2016) and Schooled (Snow winner 2008). St. Kateri Tekakwitha School, Saskatoon was the winner of a zoom visit with him.
  • Kathy Kacer, author of The Brushmaker’s Daughter (Diamond finalist 2021) and I Am Not A Number (Diamond winner 2017) George Lee School, Regina was the winner of a zoom visit with her.


The second contest was the 20th Anniversary Author Contest. Six more 2021 Shining, Diamond and Snow finalist authors offered to provide teachers a chance to win a virtual visit or reading. Here are the featured authors and winners:

  • October’s featured author was Heather M. O’Connor, Shining Award finalist for Fast Friends. The zoom visit was won by Jack Mackenzie School, Regina.
  • November’s featured author was Tziporah Cohen, Diamond Award finalist for No Vacancy. The zoom visit was won by James Hamblin School, Qu’Appelle.
  • December’s featured author was Mike Stewart, Snow Award finalist for Heart Sister. The zoom visit was won by Chief Little Pine School, Paynton.
  • January’s featured authors were The Fan Brothers, Shining Award finalist for The Barnabus 
  • Project. The zoom reading was won by Spruce Home Public School, Prince Albert.
  • February’s featured author was Gina McMurchy-Barber, Diamond Award finalist for The Jigsaw Puzzle King. The zoom visit was won by Davidson School, Davidson.
  • March’s featured author was Colleen Nelson, Snow Award finalist for Spin. The zoom visit was won by Ecole Community School, Regina.


We would like to extend a huge thank you to the authors who gave so freely of their time. Many teachers and teacher-librarians shared the excitement of their students with us. Your time was greatly appreciated!

Gala – The 2021-2022 voting year was special as The Willow Awards celebrated its 20th Anniversary. The Regina Public Libraries, Regent Branch, hosted the 20th Anniversary of the SaskEnergy Willow Awards Gala on Wednesday, June 1st through a live virtual zoom event to culminate this milestone year. Regina Public Library staff, Robin Berg and Courtney Bates-Hardy planned and executed the online event along with support from Terry Wiest and Jo Sheppard.

The gala was privileged to have the Honourable Lieutenant Governor, Russ Mirasty attend and bring greetings on behalf of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His Honour emphasized the diversity that The Willow Awards highlights through the nominated authors and books and in the spirit of that diversity also brought greetings in his first language Woodland Cree. He addressed the children and youth of the province, spotlighting the importance of their participation and reading great literature and encouraged young readers to “continue to let your imagination lead you on fantastic adventures”.


Special guest, Allix Schweitzer, the SaskEnergy representative, expressed SaskEnergy’pleasure to have partnered with The Willow Awards for more than 15 years in promotin literacy in schools. She particularly highlighted the fact that The Willows helps promote a “love of reading that lasts a lifetime”.


Jeff Barber, the Director and CEO of Regina Public Libraries, next brought thanks and congratulations on behalf of the libraries to The Willow Award organization for its many years of dedicated service to promoting Canadian literature and inspiring young readers. The Willow Awards is all about giving voice to the young people of Saskatchewan, so it was wonderful to be able to have a number of students from various schools be involved in the gala. Janaye and Kyler, from George Lee School, in Regina, did a wonderful and professional job as the Masters of



Award winners include:

  • Shining Willow Award, The Barnabas Project by The Fan Brothers
  • Diamond Willow Award, Notorious by Gordon Korman
  • Snow Willow Award, The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters.


Following the excitement of finding out the winners and the inspiring messages from the authors, Erin Walton, the President of the SYRCA- The Willow Awards gave the final closing remarks with a thank you to all those involved in the gala as well as to those who volunteer and participate in the Willow Awards without whose support The Willow Awards could not have reached its 20th Anniversary.


After the gala event, viewers could register to attend a virtual author visit with Eric Walters that afternoon and The Fan Brothers the following morning. For those registrants from across the province that registered ahead of time to watch the gala they were entered in a draw to win either a set of 2022 Willow Award Finalist books or anauthor visit in the fall. The following are the schools that were the winners:

  • Indian Head Elementary School, Indian Head- won the 2022 Shining Willow Books
  • MacNeill Elementary School, Regina- won the 2022 Diamond Willow Books
  • Southeast Regional Library, Weyburn- won the 2022 Snow Willow Books
  • Fox Valley School, Fox Valley- won an Eric Walters author visit
  • Ecole Massey Elementary School, Regina- won an Eric Walters author visit
  • Canora Junior Elementary School, Canora- won a Fan Brothers author visit
  • Davidson School, Davidson- won a Fan Brothers author visit


Reading CommitteesWe have also had many volunteers serve on our three reading committees. Over 20 years, they have read between 300 and 500 nominated titles each year, approximately 10,000 books since our inception. We have also appreciated the tremendous support our organization has received from teachers, teacher-librarians, librarians, and families that have engaged students with the finalist books. This has happened through displays, in-school and library programs, launch and gala events, and voting for their favourites. 

Sponsors In addition to our wonderful volunteers, we wanted to acknowledge our financial supporters who have been an integral part of The Willow Awards. Thanks go to all individuals, companies and organizations that have provided funds each year to support our work. A special thanks goes to SaskEnergy for their ongoing support of the annual Gala event. Also, the Willow Awards would not have been successful without the aid of publishers that submit books to be reviewed or the communities across the province that have supported our fund-raising events. The Willows could not have had such a sustained impact without these individuals, businesses and corporate entities.

We are most thankful that, for twenty years, students throughout the province have been able to read and vote for their favourite books. Young readers are the motivation and core of the Willow Awards!