Released 7 hours ago
Submitted by Enbridge Inc.
In a delightful moment of improvisation, children blurred the line between fiction and reality at a book launch.
They gathered for the June 2022 release of the picture book Ice Fishing with Nimkii, a story written about and for the children of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ontario.
In the book, inspired by the real Nimkii Lavell, the land-based tutor of the Wiikwemkoong Board of Education, Nimkii teaches Anishinaabe children how to use a gill net to ice fish on Lake Huron.
The book contains words in Anishinaabemowin, the endangered language of the Ojibwe people, whose traditional territory is in the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States.
During the reading, when Nimkii got to the part where the children in the story count fish, the children at the book launch began counting along to Anishinaabemowin without being asked or rehearsed.
“It was such a cool moment,” recalls Fabrice Grover, executive director of Innovations for Learning Canada, the literacy nonprofit that published the book. “You could see the joy of these children as they said those words. They learn to read and their language at school. It was really strong.”
IFL, which will be renamed Chapter One in 2023, published Ice Fishing with Nimkii as part of its series of e-books produced for and in collaboration with partner communities across the country, most of which are Indigenous. The nonprofit organization expects to complete 30 custom titles by the end of this school year and plans to launch an online library giving readers around the world free access to the collection.
Enbridge is a proud supporter of IFL, which also operates in the United States and the United Kingdom. Literacy is the foundation of lifelong learning and education, and with Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Day fast approaching on Friday, this unique e-book project is making great strides to help children and youth develop their potential and their to honor and protect culture.
We recently provided a $62,000 Fueling Futures grant to IFL in Canada to support their high-impact one-to-one tutoring and read-with-a-virtual-coach enrichment programs and to develop two new e-books. We also donated $66,000 in the US to support the IFL’s tutoring programs and picture books in the US as well.
“In Canada, there are 100,000 children each year who fail to complete their 3rd grade reading at their grade level,” explains Grover, adding that literacy rates in the first grades have plummeted due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic is.
A child who is unable to read well by the end of 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school.
The IFL’s two tutoring programs are in use in schools in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and the Yukon and will expand to the rest of the Prairie provinces and East Coast in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.
Children ages 5, 6 and 7 participate in the high-impact tutoring program, attending daily five-minute sessions at school with an IFL Early Literacy Interventionist, recruited from the community and trained on the IFL platform, to provide instruction in high-frequency phonetics granted .
Once children can decipher three-letter words, IFL’s enrichment tutoring program pairs them with a virtual reading coach that pairs young learners with volunteers to read together for 30 minutes a week. Notably, 75% of the students IFL works with are Indigenous students living on reservations.
The e-book project complements tutoring and helps communities with two needs, says Grover:
- Urgently help children to catch up on their reading.
- Promoting language revitalization, one of the 94 calls to action established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
“Books should give children the opportunity to be proud of their culture and connect them to languages that are part of their heritage but are in danger of extinction,” he explains. “Schools often lack early childhood reading materials that reflect the realities of these communities. For children to be enthusiastic about reading, the topics need to be relevant to them so that they can relate to the stories.
“The e-books also offer non-Indigenous reading coaches and students the opportunity to explore the communities’ original language and culture together.”
This is the gap IFL wants to fill.
Notes Grover: “We strive to be fully inclusive of communities. It is not enough to just help children learn to read in English. We have an opportunity to support the revitalization of the local language and make our efforts to promote literacy even stronger.”
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