Thursday, September 27, 2012

CCR's Sponsored Charity for 2015-2016: Lieutenant Governor’s Aboriginal Summer Reading Camps

This post from CCR Vice-President Peter McKellar:

In 2005, then-Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, James Bartleman, himself partly of First Nations origin, launched a program to support and improve literacy among the young people of the small, isolated First Nations communities of north-western Ontario, in the area from Thunder Bay to Hudson’s Bay and from Kapuskasing to the Manitoba border. These communities are accessible in most cases only by small aircraft or winter roads;  and they are afflicted by high rates of illiteracy, unemployment, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug use and suicide, this last notably among young people. They have only elementary schools on site, and the older generation’s view of education is in many cases influenced by the history of residential schools.

Mr. Bartleman’s initiatives were designed to help break this vicious circle by supporting and promoting greater educational achievement among the current generation of aboriginal children. One of them was the creation of “summer reading camps” during the period between school years, to keep the children engaged in educational activities, especially involving books and reading,  in order to maintain their literacy skills.

The Summer Reading Camps, which continue to be sponsored by the current Ontario Lieutenant-Governor, David Onley, bring together both junior and senior elementary school students with outside counsellors (usually university students from southern Canada), counsellors from the local communities and, wherever possible, local parents. They combine reading periods, including remedial reading help when needed, with other activities, both indoor and outdoor, and conclude with the distribution of free books to the young participants. The results are to improve their educational and social skills, increase their enthusiasm for learning and lead to greater reading in the home after school. 

In 2012, the seventh year of the programme, camps were held in 28 communities and involved over 2,400 children and 26 local counsellors. The feedback from First Nations leaders in the region and from the young participants has been highly positive, and there are many requests from communities not yet covered by the camps to have them extended further.

The programme is administered by Frontier College, the 110-year old Canadian literacy promotion organization based in Toronto,  but it is entirely funded by donations from a wide variety of sources. Frontier College has charitable status under the Canadian Income Tax Act, and donations by people who pay income tax in Canada for the Literacy Camps addressed to Frontier College are eligible for income tax receipts.

Further information is available from: under “Working with Aboriginal Communities” and “The Lieutenant Governor’s Aboriginal Summer Reading Camps.” The Toronto Globe and Mail had an article on the summer reading camps on Sept. 2, 2012, which is available at this link.