Celebrating literacy and Mi'kmaq History Month with first Mi'kmaw board book
for babies

HALIFAX, Oct. 2 /CNW/ - In celebration of Mi'kmaq History Month, the Read to Me! Program launched the Mi'kmaw version of Sheree Fitch's popular baby book Kisses Kisses Baby O!, translated by Mi'kmaw linguist Bernie Francis, and the Mi'kmaw edition of the Read to Me! bag at Indian Brook House of Learning today. The Mi'kmaw bag contains Weska'qelmut Apje'juanu (Kisses, Kisses Baby O!) and other books and reading resources for Mi'kmaw families. Weska'qelmut Apje'juanu is the very first Mi'kmaw board book for babies.

"It is important that our literacy resources reflect the diversity of culture and language in Nova Scotia," says Carol McDougall, Director of the Read to Me! Program. "I am excited to add the Mi'kmaw bag to our growing collection of literacy resources."

"It's incredibly important to have books in Mi'kmaw to help maintain our language and culture," says Francis. "Sheree's book provides a good foundation for early literacy for Mi'kmaw families."

Since 2008, this book has been provided with sponsorship from the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and is now available in three languages: English, French and Mi'kmaw.

"The teachers of Nova Scotia understand how important it is to root education in culture," says NSTU president Alexis Allen. "We're proud to be a part of enhancing early literacy in the Mi'kmaw language and our continued support of increasing literacy rates in Nova Scotia."

"We recognize the health, education and social benefits of early literacy," says NSNU president, Janet Hazelton. "Literacy is an important determinant of health, and nurses in Nova Scotia are very pleased to offer continued support of the Read to Me! Program and the legacy of long-term health benefits it can provide to our communities."

Fitch and Francis read Weska'qelmut Apje'juanu, (Kisses Kisses Baby O!) to a class as part of the celebration. Indian Brook Mi'kmaw Elder Ellen Robinson began the event with an opening prayer, followed by the singing of the honour song by Indian Brook students. Sister Dorothy Moore, a Mi'kmaw Elder from Membertou and a member of the Read to Me! Mi'kmaw Advisory Committee presented the first Mi'kmaw Read to Me! bag to families in attendance.

Through the Read to Me! Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program, the family of every baby born in Nova Scotia receives a free bag of books and literacy resources at the hospital bedside. The program encourages parents to talk, read and sing to their babies to support early language development and nurture a love of reading. Since the launch of the program in 2002, Read to Me! has distributed 57,000 bags.

Kisses Kisses Baby-O! is completely homegrown. It was written by local author Sheree Fitch, illustrated by local artist HildaRose, published by Nova Scotian publisher Nimbus Press and supported by both the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union.

SOURCE Nova Scotia Teachers Union

For further information: For further information: Shanda LaRamee-Jones, Provincial Coordinator, Read to Me!, (902) 470-7763; Coleen Logan, Communications, NSNU, (902) 468-0283, cell: (902) 430-6169; Angela Murray, Communications, NSTU, (902) 479-4708, cell: (902) 497-0194

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