The fifth Aboriginal Summer Reading Camp was kicked off June 28 by Nishnawbe Aski Grand Chief Stan Beardy and Ontario Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley.
"This is very important for my people, especially the children," Beardy said. "We are trying to build the foundation in reading for our children. We are trying to instil in them the love to read."
The Summer Reading Camp counsellors, who hail from different communities across Ontario, bring a variety of different perspectives and realities with them to share with the youth in about 30 participating NAN communities.
"We are trying to get our young people interested in reading so that they will be successful in school and later in life," Beardy said. "It is really important that these counsellors bring dreams to the young people, because the majority of the young people you see on the reserve, that is the only life they know."
With the youth in many NAN communities facing challenges such as high unemployment, youth suicide, health issues and lack of education opportunities, Beardy said it is important for the counsellors to offer another reality to the youth and to talk about potential opportunities for the future.
"This program makes a significant difference in the health and well being of our young people," Beardy said. "Many of NAN's communities lack the basic resources to deliver proper education to our children. Programs, such as the Summer Reading Camps, are important in developing youth literacy and play an important role in the development of leadership skills."
The Aboriginal Summer Reading Camps program was originally developed by former lieutenant governor James K. Bartleman as a pilot project in five fly-in communities in 2005 to empower First Nations children and youth to develop their literacy skills and to help overcome challenges they may face within their communities. Managed by Frontier College, the program has since grown to include more than 40 communities across Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec with a focus on reading and writing in a fun and active way. Last year's program involved more than 2,200 children from NAN.
When I look up at the clear blue sky these days I am missing something. For about a year now during this wretched pandemic I have hardly seen any contrails...