Thanks to a grant from Optik TV, a branch of Telus, a 6-part documentary series about Write to Read is in production with a due date of May 2017. The series will be comprised of 5-minute segments (approximately) each telling the who, what, when, where and why of our literacy program. Most importantly, according to writer and director Michael McCarthy, will be the ‘how” of the project. He hopes that Rotary clubs across Canada will be able to learn from the 30-munute feature how they can replicate the “blueprint” that has been developed over the last half a dozen years.
“At present Write to Read is an informal partnership between participating Rotary clubs, who raise funds and deliver the libraries,” he said, “and First Nations who operate the libraries just like any other library. But there is nothing stopping other associations from participating. For instance, the Young Professionals group from Nanaimo is involved as a Partner, as are architects, engineers, construction companies, librarians, graphic artists, RCMP, Coast Guard and others.
The series will show the humble beginnings of the project, which didn’t even have a name, with a decision by former Lt. Governor Steven Point to bring books to the aboriginal communities he was visiting. His aide de camp Bob Blacker, a Rotarian, invited Rotarians to donate books, and the rest – as they say – is history.
“Operating on a zero budget,” said producer McCarthy, a videographer and travel writer whose articles appear weekly in many Canadian daily newspapers, “has made it very difficult to obtain video footage and photos to create any sort of documentary.
It has meant hitching rides, asking small airlines for favours, sleeping on couches, and travelling to off-the-beaten track communities that few people even know exist. It’s been a great challenge, but hopefully the documentary can be used as a learning tool to teach future W2R supporters about the importance of literacy in alleviating poverty.”
The documentary is being designed as separate short segments that can each be watched individually, given the short attention span of today’s video viewers. The videos will then be stitched together as a 30-minute feature with some entertainment value as a travelogue for teachers and any business and community groups that may have interest in the topic. McCarthy, who has enjoyed over 300 trips around the world to over 40 countries in his profession as a journalist, says it was a rare privilege to be invited to visit the First Nations communities that are profiled.
“First Nations communities are not tourist destinations,” he said. “You need a reason and an invitation to go to them. There are seldom any hotels or bed and breakfasts. Thanks to the great work that Rotary has accomplished by acting as ‘equal partners,’ trust has been firmly established and both parties work together. An invitation to attend a library opening is truly what I call a ‘transformative event.’ Those people lucky enough to be invited will certainly savour the memory. It’s an opportunity to do something profound. Literacy is the key to positive social change, and no one is against libraries.”