Message from the Chair of the PLR Commission

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My two-year term as Chair of the PLR Commission is soon coming to an end, in June 2022. As I looked back on my time with the Commission recently, I realized that I have earned a sad distinction: I was the first Chair to have served an entire term remotely, without a single in-person meeting with the Executive Committee or any of its members. 

In last year’s message, I said, “the last year has been hard on the literary community and the arts world in general.” This time around, I am afraid I should say years instead. 

It has been a shock for all of us, and one that is certainly not easy to absorb. 

Still, the PLR Commission —of which each member has been affected by this seemingly endless ordeal in their own way—has continued to meet using the technology that has come to be a part of our daily lives. In these general meetings, or meetings with the Executive Committee or with the Executive Secretary and our Vice-Chair, one thing has been clear to me: no one has pretended they liked meeting online better than being in the same room as we used to. No one was trying to conceal a certain sadness. Surprisingly, this gave our meetings a sense of unity, of solidarity and even of warmth, which kept us going and made it possible for the Commission to keep doing its work. The money provided to Canadian authors through the PLR Commission is more critical than ever to the community, and we wanted to keep it business as usual—even though things have been anything but usual these past two years. 

The people on the Commission team, like everyone else we know, have been through so many changes, disruptions, and adjustments. They are fatigued. As if that wasn’t enough, this is an almost entirely new team that must adapt and adjust to new roles and a new work environment. They’ve received, analyzed, processed and closed almost 20,000 files this year, which hasn’t exactly been easier than the year before it. And once again, these inspiring people have worked their magic: cheques will go out to all of you, authors, illustrators and translators. 

If we can rely on one thing to keep the faith in our work, to find the inspiration to keep doing what we do and to do it even better, it is the fact that, in the past two years, people have turned to literature and reading as a way to nourish their soul and spirit to help them weather this crisis. And literature itself also seems to have come out of this richer, stronger, and more appreciated than ever. We have found ways to keep doing what we do, throughout the entire book ecosystem. Our colleagues in the performing arts and film have not been as fortunate. As 2022 begins, I encourage us all to keep them in our thoughts, and to support them in any way we can as soon as they can go back to work. I know I speak not only for myself but for our whole community when I tell them we stand with them in full solidarity.  

Melikah Abdelmoumen

-Mélikah Abdelmoumen, Chair, Public Lending Right Commission