Last night, the Youth Media Alliance presented their bi-annual English Language Awards of Excellence. Bell Fund supported projects received 10 nominations. Five of these projects went home as winners including: Adventures of Napkin Man (Best Television Program, All Genres, Ages 3-5), Hi Opie! Interactive (Best Convergent Website), The Legend of Sarilla (Best Television Program, Animation, Ages 6-8),FANGBONE! (Best Television Program, Animation, Ages 9-14) and AnneDroids (Grand Prize for Best Production All Categories).

The Youth Media Alliance also honoured former Executive Director, Andra Sheffer, with the Outstanding Achievement Award for her years spent supporting children and youth content in Canada. Program Manager, Marcia Douglas, presented the award and spoke of Andra’s contribution:

“We are here tonight to honour a visionary who has enabled Canadian children to play with dust bunnies and dinosaurs and make friends on every screen.

Andra Sheffer has contributed to every part of the Canadian media industries and though she has supported programming for grown-ups…the fun has always been in the content for kids.

She has a degree in child psychology and in her early career she worked at the film festival bureau promoting Canadian films and filmmakers around the world. She was instrumental in establishing the current CAVCO Canadian certification system and was managing director for TIFF. Some of you will remember her as the first Executive Director of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. But it is her work as Executive Director and CEO of three private funds in Canada that enabled her to help foster the fun and games. 

At the helm of the IPF, Bell Fund and Cogeco Funds Andra has supported countless projects that have engaged, educated and above all entertained kids of all ages. Recognizing the shift to an on-demand audience she helped to pilot a new direction for the IPF, traditionally a TV fund, to digital series in 2010 (months before Netflix even launched in Canada).

Andra stepped down from the Bell Fund last December. As the first convergent fund in the world it helped to carve out international recognition for the Canadian industry while delighting kids and families. Under her watch, the fund supported over 1500 TV projects, apps, websites and games.

One of the first kid’s properties that she would mention is Big Comfy Couch which was funded by the IPF  – it is noteworthy that she knows how to spot a hit, as evidenced by the fact that it is still on the air over 20 years later. There is not time to list the all of the projects that came to life under her tenure but those properties included stories and characters for the those of different abilities, kid interviewers exploring their world, slugs battles, tween detectives and the most issue ridden, internationally known high school in the world.

Andra is an amazing mentor who always makes time to listen and meet with creators and producers of all experience levels and offers guidance for their projects.

She loves dark chocolate and cooks a mean steak. She is smart and sassy and a true champion of kids content, producers and creators.

I found two quotes the reminded me of Andra:

From Katherine Hepburn:

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”


From Cookie Monster:

“Sometimes me think, what is friend?  And then me say a friend is someone to share last cookie with.”

Thank you Andra for being my friend and such an amazing friend to the Canadian industry and kids everywhere.”