A jubilant Will Ferguson wins Giller prize, raises toast to written word

A kilt-wearing Calgary humorist Will Ferguson urged attendees at the star-studded Scotiabank Giller bash to raise a glass in honour of his craft Tuesday night as he captured the $50,000 prize for his novel 419, reported The Montreal Gazette and others Oct. 31.  “I’d like to raise a toast to the written word,” the bearded Ferguson said as he accepted the award, pulling a flask out of the sporran attached to his Highland tartan outfit. His Giller-winning novel (a Viking Canada publication) takes on a serious tone as it focuses on an email scam in Nigeria, where a woman is searching for the culprits behind her father’s death. Ferguson, who is well known for his travel books, said the Giller honour gives him some reassurance as he delves more into literary fiction. And what will he do with the Giller prize money?  “We’ll travel for sure, at some point,” said Ferguson, who studied screenwriting and film production at York University and has also lived in Ecuador and Japan. Read full story.

Two-thirds of Canadians not disaster-ready
Experts say people’s approach to emergency preparedness isn’t worth the can of beans they presume will tide them over, with nearly four in 10 Canadians lacking the resources to sustain their families for a 72-hour period in the event of a power outage, such as the one that affected more than seven million North Americans Tuesday, reported the Vancouver Sun and others Oct. 31. At the community level, disaster expert Ali Asgary says greater investments need to be made in reducing risk, with focus on safer structures, construction methods and environmental controls. But he cautions that such measures don’t let individuals off the hook. “The Canadian system is really based on individual and family preparedness – and it should be. But people have come to rely more and more on the government, expecting them to do too much,” says Asgary, an associate professor of disaster and emergency management at York University. Read full story.