A new literacy partnership launching this spring hopes to support indigenous family literacy by bringing parents and children together.
Called “Read, Learn, Laugh” the six-week program was developed through a partnership between University nuxełhot’įnethaaɁehots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills (UnBQ) and the St. Paul Community Adult Learning Program – Portage College.
According to Valerie Cardinal, the team lead at the Blue Quills Literacy Centre, the idea is to provide books that allow both parents and children to engage with the material and improve their skills in both nêhiyawêwin (Cree) and English.
“We wanted to be able to engage foundational learning adults to read with their children, so they’re children’s books but the text is not long. It’s fairly short and they should be able to handle it,” said Cardinal.
A foundational learner is a reader whose reading skill is below a high school level according to the provincial benchmarks.
“The only way to get better at being a reader is to continue to do it over and over,” said Cardinal, noting the program is meant to engage the parents and their children for about two hours every week. She said there is room for about six families in the program which they hope to hold in person when restrictions allow.
“We would engage them in that reading environment. So we would read the books with them and then have activities for them to reinforce concepts in the book,” said Cardinal.
One book used in the program which she gave as an example is called Pow Wow Counting in Cree, which teaches numbers in nêhiyawêwin. Another is called Mosom, Mosom and introduces the words for different family relationships.
“Language needs the culture to go with it. One of the things that the larger non-indigenous community has been embracing is the land acknowledgement. So we’ve created resources specific to nêhiyawêwin,” said Cardinal. “We included recommendations for smudging, so incorporating that process and teaching our little one that. That was something that was important.”
Until restrictions allow for the program to be hosted in person, Cardinal said they have released all the resources for free online on the UnBQ website.
According to Patricia Flatla, the program coordinator at Portage College, students in the Early Learning and Child Care Diploma Program will be making the program available as part of the Language Growth course offered in Spring 2021.