Project Literacy Kelowna
British Columbia’s oldest independent literacy organization was awarded the Council of the Federation Literacy Award on September 8, for its work to develop literacy skills and build community ties throughout the Central Okanagan Region.
Project Literacy Kelowna Society provides free tutoring in reading, writing, language proficiency, digital literacy, mathematics and financial literacy, with the help of 150 dedicated volunteers. Since the organization opened its doors in 1986, the training it has provided has helped more than 6,000 residents from different national and cultural backgrounds enhance their literacy skills.
2016 - Teachers at Burnaby’s Learning Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program
Teachers at Burnaby’s Learning Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program are recognized for their efforts to connect immigrants and refugees with literacy skills they need to get involved in their community.
Many students come to Burnaby LINC unable to read or write in any language. The program helps students improve their English-language literacy and understand Canadian culture through creative teaching methods that develop the real-life skills they need to be successful in B.C.
Teachers at Burnaby LINC teach more than English-language literacy. They also connect students with community organizations that support them as they get used to life in Canada. The program provides these services at no charge to students, and offers free childcare for students during classes through a partnership with Burnaby Family Life Institute. The program has been operating in the Burnaby school district since 1992.
2015 - Helen Domshy, Literacy Outreach Coordinator
As a lifelong learner, Helen Domshy has worn many hats. She had a lengthy and successful career as a medical imagist with specific interest in women's health; she pursued further education in Gender Studies; and she has been a vital part of Prince George as the community's Literacy Outreach Coordinator.
Since 2008, she has worked tirelessly to develop and nurture community connections between learners, services, and agencies. She built community capacity by offering Plain and Clear Language workshops, coordinating training for dozens of volunteer tutors, and creating locally relevant programs and materials for learners. She has used her position as literacy outreach coordinator to promote a broad and intersectional definition of literacy that empowers people in all aspects of their lives.
2014 - Anne Docherty, Executive Director, Storytellers' Foundation (Hazelton and Skeena)
Anne has designed a people-centred approach to literacy that cultivates active citizenship. Her blending of popular and informal education allows individuals to take control of their lives and participate in the common life of their community.
Anne created a series of reflective tool kits to help literacy and community development practitioners deepen their understanding of the role that literacy plays in fostering social, cultural, economic and political participation.
Anne has influenced how literacy progress is measured within British Columbia. Partnering in research projects, Anne has created a measurement tool that reflects the citizenship competencies of indigenous and remote-rural people.
Anne teaches and mentors within Storytellers’ and SFU professional school of Community-based Economic Development.
2013 - Powell River Public Library (PRPL)
Described as “the little library that could”, Powell River Public Library (PRPL) exemplifies the positive impact partnerships and collaborations have in supporting literacy throughout their community.
PRPL engaged a wide range of community partners to develop, deliver and support literacy for all ages and across their region. Partners include StrongStart, Powell River School District, Powell River Youth Centre, Ahms Tah Ow First Nations School, Vancouver Island University, and Vancouver Coastal Health, to name a few. Through these collaborations, PRPL and their partners were able to offer a diverse selection of literacy-related activities, appealing to a variety of learning styles.
PRPL demonstrates leadership in literacy, ongoing collaboration and partnerships as well as a learner-centred approach that contributes to positive literacy outcomes throughout their community.
2012 - Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS)
When LASS first evolved, it approached the scene with the attitude of "what can we do to help or support you" rather than "this is what we’re doing." The representatives of LASS met with other groups, showed respect to the work being done by other volunteers and agencies and truly boosted the ability of many to provide literacy opportunities to those in need.
In addition to fostering collaboration and partnerships in the community, LASS has put into place a variety of well-received, innovative literacy programs that target learners of all ages and across all sectors. Some of the successful literacy programs provided by LASS include: Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week, Save/Spend/Share Financial Literacy Program, Financial Fitness Series, Coyote Café After School Reading Program, "Pawsitive" Reading Program, and the One-to-One Children’s Literacy Program.
Participation in LASS programs has been impressive. Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week involved 1,257 participants and the One-to-One Children’s Literacy Program has involved over 200 community volunteers across 13 schools in School District 83 – North Okanagan Shuswap. Children participating in the One-to-One Children’s Literacy Program increased their reading speed by 10 and 82 per cent and their reading accuracy by 12 and 41 per cent in only four months. Meanwhile, the Coyote Cafe After School Reading Program provides an exciting and engaging opportunity for aboriginal students and supports the districts work toward meeting goals set out in its Aboriginal Education Enhancement.
LASS strives for continual improvement by setting goals, planning actions and strategies, evaluating progress, and celebrating achievements. Many of the activities have received extensive coverage in the media, people are bringing their children and taking part in the events, and the literacy focus is being woven into the culture of the communities in School District 83 – North Okanagan Shuswap.
In summary, LASS exemplifies commitment to community collaboration, innovative literacy practices, and positive literacy outcomes for all learners and is a worthy recipient of the 2012 Council of the Federation Literacy Award for British Columbia.
2011 - Dee McRae
With approximately twenty years of service in the literacy field, Dee McRae continues to contribute to literacy through her legacy of body of work, commitment to quality, and innovative literacy practices. Since 1994, Dee McRae has been employed with Northwest Community College (NWCC) where she began as an instructor for Adult Basic Education. She held the position of Regional Literacy Coordinator for 12 years on a part-time contract basis, and then in 2008 she was successful in taking this position over when NWCC added it into their literacy portfolio. Due to her position, and the connections nurtured over the years, Dee has been influential in the development of and funding for seven community adult literacy programs, and has assisted communities around successfully receiving English as a Second Language Settlement grants. At the school district level, Dee was co-chair of the SD54 District Literacy Coalition that piloted one of the province’s first district literacy plans in 2007.
As a lifelong learner, Dee seeks out and helps to organize professional development opportunities. For example, Dee has worked on numerous projects and workshops with Storytellers and Rural Roots including Appreciative Inquiry Workshops bringing together Northwest Community College and community literacy groups. In response to the needs of practitioners and the communities they serve, in particular northern, remote-rural, and aboriginal communities, Dee has published timely and relevant research reports and manuals for practitioners. Dee has also authored and co-authored a number of publications and has presented in BC, Alberta and the United Kingdom through which she has developed an international following around her research.
On any given day, Dee can be seen driving learners to an appointment, meeting with practitioners to help with funding agreements, delivering tutor training in a remote community, providing advice to provincial level organizations about literacy measurement strategies, working on a topical research project, or collaborating with a provincial literacy cohort around provincial policies and programming.
In summary, Dee’s commitment to literacy in BC, and especially in northwest BC, is significant, and has contributed to a healthier and more literate society by:
- Changing the way community literacy services are delivered
- Designing and delivering innovative tutor training
- Influencing how literacy progress is measured locally and provincially; and, perhaps most importantly
- Changing the lives of individual people
In the words of one of her colleagues, "It is a privilege to work beside Dee and it is my hope to continue to have her be an ever present force in my life as well as the students we work with everyday."