Aboriginal Leaders Gather to Address Issues Facing Reading in their Communities

TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - More than 40 leaders in the field of aboriginal reading are gathering in Banff, Alberta October 27 to 29 for a roundtable discussion about the future of reading in their communities.

Aboriginal reading advocates speaking at the event include authors Richard Wagamese and Waubgeshig Rice, publishers/editors Paul Seesequasis (Theytus Books) and Randal McIlroy (Pemmican Publications), among others, as well as aboriginal librarians, literacy experts and educators. Susan Aglukark, a strong advocate for literacy for her people, will give a keynote speech.

The roundtable is in response to the same set of issues as addressed in the recent People for Education Report citing the low high-school graduation rates for aboriginal children.* The report notes that aboriginal Ontarians in the public school system score 20% lower on literacy tests than the provincial average. Sixty percent of aboriginal Canadians do not have the literacy skills necessary to participate fully in our society.**

The challenges are diverse and complex, and it is essential that any plan for addressing the issues come from within those communities. To that end, the National Reading Campaign is facilitating a series of three policy roundtables over three years. The roundtables will bring together aboriginal leaders in the field of reading to explore approaches and create an effective plan to promote access to reading on and off reserves for children and youth, and to create a much-needed common agenda to champion reading and reading policies for aboriginal children.

Schools are the place where all Canadians should have an opportunity to embrace the joy of reading. Yet many people continue to be excluded from the reading experience in Canada, particularly aboriginal peoples. Reading statistics for Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Metis are much lower than for other Canadians. Financing for education and libraries within these communities is unstable, and at a much lower rate than the national average. (If you'd like to read more about the situation, see the Assembly of First Nations' Call to Action on Education ***).

Conference Co-chair Harvey McCue says that, "The National Reading Campaign and TD Bank Group want to facilitate a discussion amongst aboriginal peoples about how we can best work towards addressing the chronic inequities in financing and resources for aboriginal reading across Canada."

"Aboriginal Readers: Opening New Worlds" is sponsored by TD. TD has a long-standing commitment to literacy, and recently published a comprehensive report on aboriginal literacy, "Literacy Matters: Unlocking the Potential of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada."**

*http://www.peopleforeducation.ca/pfe-news/most-first-nations-metis-and-inuit-students-attend-ontarios-provincially-funded-schools/

**http://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/LiteracyMattersUnlockingtheLiteracyPotentialofAboriginalPeoplesinCanada.pdf

***http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/education/11-06-11_a_call_to_action_year_in_review.pdf

SOURCE: National Reading Campaign

For further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Marcia McClung
Publicist
mmcclung@sympatico.ca
T. 416-977-2576
C. 647-284-7428

Holly Kent
Community Manager
holly@nationalreadingcampaign.ca
C. 416-838-8226

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