Canada Post to honour acclaimed writer Margaret Atwood on final stamp of 2021

Canada Post will honour renowned Canadian writer Margaret Atwood with the final issue of this year’s stamp program during an in-person ceremony in Toronto this Thursday.

Canada Post officials will host the Nov. 25 unveiling at the Toronto Reference Library alongside several special guests, including Atwood. She will be joined by actor, writer, director, producer and political activist Sarah Polley plus Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, a citizen activist who’s also the national chair of the Word on the Street Canada, the chair of the Harold Innis Foundation and the co-founder of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.

Due to COVID-19-related capacity restrictions and protocols, the unveiling ceremony is only open to “a limited number of people,” according to a statement issued today by Canada Post.

The unveiling will take place in the library’s Bram and Bluma Appel Salon beginning at 11 a.m. (ET).

Before today’s announcement, Canada Post declined to confirm the forthcoming stamp’s subject beyond teasing a three-word phrase – “a novel topic” – in recent issues of Details magazine, the Crown corporation’s house organ.

According to one collector who was shown a recent postal bulletin with issue dates, first-day cities and clues, the Nov. 25 “novel topic” teaser was accompanied by the letters “MA.” The first-day city was also listed as Toronto, where Atwood has lived since 1946, when she was just age six.

Appointed in 1981 as a Companion of the Order of Canada, Atwood also received the Governor Generals Award in 1966 and 1985 for her poetry collection The Circle Game and dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, respectively (the latter of which has since been reimagined as a TV series currently on its fourth season). Both honours are commonly used by Canada Post’s Stamp Advisory Committee as benchmarks to determine a living subject’s stamp worthiness.

Atwood also began her writing career in 1961 – 60 years ago – since which time she has published 18 poetry books, 18 novels, 11 non-fiction books, nine short fiction collections, eight children’s books and two graphic novels.

CONTROVERSY

The popular author has occasionally been the source of controversy, the most recent of which took place this October, when she shared a column by the Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno entitled “Why Can’t We Say ‘Women’ Anymore?

In her column, DiManno argues gender-neutral language will lead to “an erasure of women” with the general public becoming “tongue-tied, lest they be attacked as transphobic or otherwise insensitive to the increasingly complex constructs of gender.”

Atwood’s tweet led to thousands of responses in which she was accused of transphobia. Fellow author Katie Mack, of Raleigh, N.C., replied: “No one is banning the word ‘woman.’ Many organizations are — rightly — opting for precise language when talking about things that have to do with biological traits rather than gender identity. It’s not an attack on womanhood to NOT equate gender with specific biology.”

In a later tweet, Atwood once again defended DiManno’s column by telling her two million followers, “Read her piece. She’s not a Terf.”

CSN will review the forthcoming Atwood stamp in Vol. 46 #18.

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