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Books broaden worldview of Keewaywin students

Thursday November 29, 2012
Submitted photo
Students and staff at the Keewaywin First Nations School received a shipment of books from Books With No Bounds in October.

Students and staff at the Keeywaywin First Nation School were surprised to find a box of books had arrived one weekend.

“We didn’t know where they had come from,” said Anna Fern Kakegamic, principal of the school.
It was not until a note, which had peeled off the box, was found that the school discovered the books came from two teenage sisters in southern Ontario.

Emily and Julia Mogus of Oakville, Ont. formed Books With No Bounds last summer with the goal of collecting and sending books to remote First Nations communities in northern Ontario.

By October, they gathered 5,000 books in donations and out of their own pockets and sent them off. Keewaywin was one of more than 20 fly-in communities that received a shipment of books.
“The students really liked receiving the books,” Kakagamic said.

She described the books as being of good quality and for different ages. After the books were sorted for each grade, students were free to take a book home.

“We went through all the books and some children picked out two books to take home,” Kakegamic said. “There was that many.”

The school is a member of a book club but the club only offered books for students up to Grade 6. But the books received from Books With No Bounds offered something for the older students.

“There were so many high reading levels that they were happy with the different choices,” Kakegamic said.

Kakegamic said the reading levels at the school “are still very high,” though improving their writing is something the staff is working on.

“We’re making some headway with that,” she said.

But the books also help with providing a view of the world outside their own community. Some students do not leave the reserve until the Grade 8 trip.

“I just find what the kids get here on the reserve, any exposure to any books or literature is good,” Kakegamic said.

Kakegamic wrote a letter to the Mogus sisters, thanking them and telling them that the students would have a lot of fun reading them. She also included a photo of some students and staff with the books.

To help raise awareness to their cause, the Mogus sisters have appeared on TV shows to talk about the low literacy rates in NAN communities.

Kakegamic said she watched one of their appearances and saw the photo she sent presented on the show.

“The teachers told (the students) that they’re on the news and that their picture were on TV,” she said, adding with a laugh: “Some don’t comprehend that – they don’t realize that they’re on national TV.”

The Mogus sisters said Books With No Bounds is ongoing as they are back to collecting more books to send up north. Kakegamic said the sisters have taken on “a good initiative” and that the school is receptive to receiving more.

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