Weledeh Catholic School students Jack Nixon, left and Miyuki Voytilla, right pose with an Indigo Love of Reading Foundation promotional cheque. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio
Weledeh Catholic School and Łútsël K’é Dene School have received $40,000 and $15,000 respectively from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.
The Indigo Love of Reading grant is an annual grant for schools to replace deteriorating books and broaden the selection available for students.
This year, $1 million was split between 30 schools across Canada.
In a press release, the foundation cited a report that children with stronger literacy skills are more likely to succeed in post-secondary education and later careers.
However, literacy is also reflective of social inequities, in that children who are Indigenous or from poorer households and neighbourhoods tend to show weaker literacy skills.
Łútsël K’é Dene School principal Vivian Harris says her school has been working for the past five years to build a community library.
“If someone wants to borrow a book, you just come in and you take it with the hope that it comes back,” said Harris. “If it doesn’t, that’s still OK – it just means that there are books in the homes. But our number of books was starting to dwindle.”
Harris hopes to foster a love of reading in her students with the money received.
“You can read online, but there’s nothing like picking up a book and flipping the pages. So we just want to bring that back,” she said, adding that students have specifically requested more graphic novels.
In Yellowknife, Weledeh Catholic School student Miyuki Voytilla agreed that more graphic novels, especially Japanese manga, should be added to her school’s library. At the moment, Voytilla said, there are only three to four of those titles in the library.
Voytilla says she was shocked by the $40,000 grant.
“It’s very surprising. It’s a lot of money,” she told Cabin Radio after the school held an announcement on Wednesday. “For a second, I thought, oh, four hundred dollars – and then I was like, oh, forty thousand!”
The grant was announced to students after a birthday party for the school’s wolf mascot, Lupi. Children and staff were wearing shiny paper crowns to celebrate.
Weledeh literacy support teacher Catherine Son said she hopes to build a library that better reflects the school’s diversity.
There will also be a French immersion program up to Grade 3 at the school next year, and Son hopes to bring in more French-language books.
“Literacy is important for all students in every walk of life,” said Son. “You need a variety of books that students will enjoy reading to build up those literacy skills that they’ll need for whatever they do in life.”