Ottawa, February 19, 2020 – The Canada Council for the Arts today revealed the winners of the 2020 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (GGArts).
This year, seven artists and one arts professional are being honoured in recognition of their exceptional careers and their remarkable contributions to the visual arts, media arts and fine craft.
Zainub Verjee (Cultural Administrator, Arts Advocate, Art Critic, Art Centre/Gallery Director, Artist, International Art Gallery director Jubilee Arts Festival, Lisbon) has won the prestigious 2020 Governor General’s Award for her Outstanding Contribution to the visual arts (including architecture and photography), the media arts, and fine craft, in a volunteer or professional capacity.
Niranjan Rajah (Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Artist, Theorist, Curator) who nominated Zainub for this award said the following about her contribution:
Through her art practice, critical writings, distribution activities, programming, policy work and leadership, she has taken bold and challenging positions on questions of diversity, access, technology and artist’s rights. — Niranjan Rajah
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Zainub Verjee was educated in England and immigrated to Canada in the early 1970s. She has seamlessly played multiple roles and has shaped culture policy at all levels of government and was instrumental in building cultural institutions and organizations in Canada and internationally. Fuelled by passion, vision and a staunch conviction that art is a public good, Zainub is regularly invited to speak nationally and internationally and has been published in numerous academic, cultural and critical fora. Source
Zainub has been one of the forces that pushed for Arts and Culture to have an independent Portfolio in the 1990s. With Canada having the first National Arts and Culture Portfolio established, she served on its body and over a period of two decades have been contributing to building the literacy on issues and practices of Arts and Culture.
Between 2014- 2015, she was brought in as a Strategic Advisor to the National Arts and Culture Portfolio to build an Art policy framework to situate and benefit the jamati practices within the larger Canadian Art ecosystem. Having worked for long stints over 40 both in B.C and Ontario, Zainub work has a pan-Canada impact both on national Canadian Art community but also on our Jamat.
This is a moment of pride for global Ismaili community as Zainub becomes the first-ever Ismaili to win this prestigious award!
This is the highest honour that is bestowed on an art professional in Canada. I feel honoured and humbled that four decades of my work that have shaped arts and culture in Canada and internationally is acknowledged with this prestigious award. It also makes me the first Ismaili to win this Award. It’s a good day for our Jamat and Arts! Zainub Verjee
Zainub co-founded the critically acclaimed In Visible Colours: An International Film/Video Festival & Symposium for Third World Women and Women of Colour. Among many appointments to boards, she is proud of her work at the B.C. Arts Board, which led to the formation of the British Columbia Arts Council. http://www.zainubverjee.com/
Watch this original short film directed by Kristin Li created in honour of Zainub Verjee
Zainub will receive $25,000 prize and a special-edition bronze medallion in recognition of her excellent work. Her work will also be displayed at the Art gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, in summer of 2020.