Strengthening community bonds
The summer literacy camps are the result of an eight-year partnership between Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, Frontier College and the Makivik Corporation. Initiated in Kuujjuaraapik with the support of ESUMA in 2014, the camps have gradually expanded to 12 of the 14 Nunavik communities.
“Engaging youth in literacy activities makes a real difference in terms of retaining knowledge during the summer break,” says Etua Snowball, Director of Education Services at Kativik Ilisar ni liriniq. The literacy camps strengthen community bonds and encourage a shared culture of literacy and learning that benefits everyone. Children between the ages of five and 12 also get the opportunity to keep building on the Inuktitut, English, and French reading skills they acquired during the school year.
Last year, when the COVID‐19 pandemic hit, Frontier College’s genuine commitment to developing local expertise paid off. In a regular year, 50 per cent of Frontier College literacy workers are hired locally. Thus, the organization was able to turn around quickly, mobilize its local human resources and offer literacy activities in seven communities. A total of eight literacy workers were hired (six returning from previous summers and two new staff). They participated in regional training where they learned about or revisited the importance of reading through summer months, how to integrate literacy in regular community activities, how to offer literacy activities online, risk and safety management in COVID‐19 times, and many more topics that allowed them to deliver impactful activities in their communities.
This year, the goal is to return to offering summer literacy activities in 12 communities. Their format will differ slightly from previous years, due to COVID‐19 public health measures.
With the support of Literacy Workers, elders, parents, and community members, over 500 children will expand their vocabulary and increase their love of reading through storytelling, group reading, arts and crafts, writing, and more. To deliver these activities, more that 200 books will be sent to each community to encourage summer reading amongst children.
In each participating community, Frontier College aims at hiring two to four local literacy workers. To help design the most impactful activities for children and their families, these workers will be trained and supported remotely by the Frontier College team. They will also stay in touch with each other to share ideas, building on each other’s successes throughout the summer.
“Initiatives such as the summer literacy camps are essential to student success. They complement other programs we offer in partnership with Frontier College during the school year, such as the Math Tutor Program which has focused on support for secondary students for the past four years,” says Etua Snowball.
Commenting on activities offered in Kuujjuarapik last year, a parent says: “They were great! I love that you guys did them so often, too. The kids had nothing for so long. It was a really good idea, giving them something that they could do safely at home.”
In light of the disruptions caused by COVID‐19, summer literacy activities are more needed than ever in Nunavik. By mobilizing partners, community members and families around the common goal of promoting literacy amongst Nunavik youth this summer, we continue to mitigate the impact of the pandemic while helping them to become confident readers who will become successful life‐long learners.
Mélanie Valcin is the Regional Director for Quebec, Nunavut, and Atlantic Canada at Frontier College.
Jade Duchesneau Bernier is the Communications Coordinator at Kativik Ilisarniliriniq.