The Read On, Adult Literacy Program at the Lethbridge Public Library (LPL) was recognized for innovative achievements September 8th, 2017 as it was named the Alberta recipient of the Council of the Federation Literacy Award.
Continually searching for new pathways to reach out to all learners and promote the importance of literacy has motivated Lethbridge Public Library’s Read On, Adult Literacy Program to explore exciting learning opportunities in our city.
“This award speaks to the creativity of the Read On staff, and the partnerships they have forged in response to identified community needs. The passion that Read On staff and volunteers have for the work they do shows in the results they produce. The impact of the program on people’s lives has been significant. LPL’s Read On program helps new Canadians, ESL learners, and other adult learners acquire the skills they need to thrive and succeed. Read On’s focus on delivering culturally relevant programming has helped us to connect with the Indigenous population and new Canadians in and around our community. The work Read On is doing now is leading the way, in many areas, for the future of Lethbridge Public Library, which endeavours to provide a welcoming, inclusive space for everyone that connects and strengthens community. The Read On staff, volunteers and students are a great example in our community and in our Library, of how people and organizations can come together to make a difference in people’s lives.” – Library CEO Terra Plato
Lil Radley, Read On, Adult Literacy Coordinator says “An increase in staff, made possible through additional funding, has allowed Read On to respond to local Indigenous literacy needs identified in two Lethbridge reports: Aboriginal Adult Literacy and Foundation Learning Report and Final Report on Urban Aboriginal Issues in Lethbridge.” This included developing three FNMI (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) programs: – Capturing Our Power by Reading, partnered with The University of Lethbridge, School District #51, and Lethbridge Police Services, and focused on helping FNMI children develop a love of reading.
– ‘Akiitsini’koip – We Will Tell Stories’, partnered with Red Crow Community College Satellite Campus, and used Aboriginal culture as a learning vehicle to help urban FNMI families reconnect or strengthen ties with their heritage.
– The Blackfoot Culture and Language Program, partnered with Kainaiwa Children’s Services, and focused on strengthening culture, language, and traditions, for Blood Tribe children residing with non-Aboriginal foster parents or in child care.
Read On has also recently facilitated part of the Saamis Aboriginal and Employment Association’s ‘A’paisttotso’p – We Move Around, Changing Camps’ program that assists Aboriginal people in transitioning to urban life. The impact of these programs is helping to address some of the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Read On also hosts Native Counselling Interagency Meetings and is part of a committee that is facilitating a FNMI Mentoring program.
Lil, who will be accepting the award at the Literacy and Learning Symposium in Edmonton on September 28th notes, “The Council of the Federation Literacy Award is gratifying, we are very happy to receive the recognition for Read On staff, for the Library, and on behalf of our many volunteers.” Noting that this year, International Literacy Day focuses on Literacy in a Digital World, Lil says the reality of living and working in this rapidly changing world of technology makes it more important than ever that everyone has the opportunity to acquire the basic foundational skills they need to learn, so that they can keep up with these changes.
The Council of the Federation Literacy Award recognizes outstanding achievement, innovative practice and excellence in literacy. Thirteen awards are presented annually, one for each province and territory to recognize the excellence of educators, volunteers, learners, community organizations and businesses in many areas, including family, Aboriginal, health, workplace and community literacy.
Over the past 13 years, Read On which is volunteer based, has helped 2,885 adult learners increase their literacy and essential skills, many proceeding to post-secondary learning. Literacy advocacy is ongoing. Information is distributed by various means to service and other organizations, e.g. food banks, Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Services, Family Centre, local school boards. WhatsApp is now being used to create literacy awareness for the local Low German Mennonite population.