Amber Bowerman Calgary journalistThe Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award offered by the Writers Guild of Alberta is in honour of Amber Bowerman a born-and-raised Calgary writer, editor and mentor to journalists. She wrote for many publications, including Avenue, Swerve, CalgaryInc and Alberta Venture. Amber’s first published stories appeared in the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun while she was still attending Lord Beaverbrook High School, where she shone as a primary contributor to the student newspaper The Beacon.  The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation (AWBMF) was established in the summer of 2008 to honour and preserve the memory of journalist Amber Michelle Bowerman (nee Webb) who was killed in a multiple murder-suicide by her landlord on May 27, 2008. The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation is a registered charity created to help fulfill her dreams by supporting emerging artists and journalists.

Following journalism school at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Amber began her career in earnest as an intern at Alberta Views magazine; she worked her way up to become the magazine’s associate publisher. Most recently, Amber was a prolific freelance writer and Publications Editor for the SAIT Students’ Association, where, as editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper The Weal, she mentored a new generation of budding journalists. On the third year anniversary of her passing, the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation announced the creation of a lasting legacy for their namesake during a press conference at SAIT Polytechnic. The Foundation hopes to carry on apart of Amber’s spirit, and to fulfill her goal of helping others further their own dreams in journalism and the arts.

Through the efforts of donors, the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation has met its endowment fundraising objective for the SAIT Polytechnic journalism scholarship in Amber’s name. The final cheque for the SAIT endowment was presented in May by the Foundation’s President, Kathe Lemon (Avenue Magazine), to the Annual Giving Manager of SAIT Alumni and Development. The amount of the cheque was $10,497.93 reaching a total of more than $28,500 in the endowment, which will ensure that the journalism scholarship in Amber’s name will be given in perpetuity.

It was through many small acts of kindness and the donations of so many people in Calgary and across the country that this was possible. We appreciate the help from all of our donors, the supporters, and the media as well as those who participate in the annual fundraising events,” says Kathe Lemon, the President of the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation. “This isn’t the most significant donation ever in terms of the absolute amount, but it is truly a huge donation in terms of the number of people who came together to make it happen and who put their thoughts into making something positive from tragedy. The foundation was set up with both obvious and implicit goals. We wanted to develop scholarships to support the growth of students because that was important to Amber and reflective of her own aspirations,” says Lemon. “But we also had an implicit goal to create something that would help us heal as a community and do something positive with our grief. In establishing this lasting legacy I think we’ve helped to reach both of those goals.

Dedicated to quality in writing, reporting and the arts, Amber encouraged and supported young journalists and artists similarly committed to their own careers. Amber had studied Journalism at SAIT Polytechnic and later became the full-time Editor of the SAIT’s campus newspaper, The Weal. At SAIT, she helped lead, mentor and teach the student reporters.

Ashley Kascak was the inaugural winner of the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial journalism scholarship at SAIT in 2009.

It meant a lot because it came at a time of my life when I was questioning if I was doing that right thing (being a journalist). It confirmed that what I was doing was right because of who she (Amber) was and what the scholarship was about,” explains Kascak. “Journalism is what I care about and it meant a lot.

Although Kascak never met Amber, it is clear the foundation’s namesake has made a strong impression on her.

She must have been incredible,” says Kascak. “From what I have heard and read about, she touched a lot of people and had a great heart. She was caring of others and because of that, others cared about her. And of course, she excelled in journalism too.

Kascak is actively involved with supporting the Foundation and eagerly participates in the Foundation’s annual fundraiser, The Sugar Bowl – a recreational lawn bowling event. “I think of it as the passing of the torch and giving back. People saw something in me. It touched my heart and I want to stay connected.”

The scholarship endowment at SAIT Polytechnic is only the first accomplishment on the wish-list for the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation. Next up, the foundation will establish a similar endowment at Mount Royal University in Calgary. The foundation also plans to continue supporting the annual student writing award it has established with the Western Magazine Awards Foundation.

The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation (AWBMF) is incorporated as a non-profit society under the Alberta Societies Act and as a registered charity. By providing scholarships, bursaries, monetary awards and other forms of financial assistance, the AWBMF aims to foster the achievement of excellence, and to broaden scholastic opportunities for emerging western Canadian journalists and artists.

Donors can contribute to the registered charity online at amberbowerman.ca.

The Writers Guild of Alberta also offers an award in Amber Bowerman’s name to young travel writers with exceptional unpublished work.

Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award Submission Guidelines:

  • Entrants must be 30 years old or younger as of December 31, 2011.
  • Entrants must have resided in Alberta for a minimum of 12 of the past 18 months as of December 31, 2011.
  • Entries must be original and must not have been previously published. (Please note that previously published travel writing pieces may be entered into the James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction.)
  • Entries must be no longer than 3000 words.
  • Essays must be typed on plain white 8.5 x 11 inch paper using standard manuscript format (double spaced, page numbers indicated). Faxed or e-mailed copies will not be accepted.
  • The award employs a blind judging process.  To facilitate this process, the author’s name and identifying information (acknowledgments, email address, reference to previously published works, etc.) must not appear anywhere in the manuscript.
  • Entries may be submitted by authors, or any interested parties.
  • A cover sheet with the author’s name, address, telephone number and email address, title of piece, number of pages, and word count, must be sent with the entry.
  • Entries must include a completed Entry Form (www.writersguild.ab.ca) and four copies of the piece. Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • A $15 entry fee must accompany submissions. Please make cheques payable to the Writers Guild of Alberta.
  • Ineligible submissions will not be returned.
  • If, in the opinion of the judges, no work in this competition merits an award, no award will be given. In all cases, the judges’ decision is final.

See more about the Amber Bowerman Memorial Award and the other Alberta Literary Awards Categories.

Deadline for submissions for consideration for 2012 Alberta Literary Awards is December 31, 2011.