The Write to Read Project is an equal partnership between participating parties with a shared interest in increasing the level of literacy among aboriginal people in British Columbia, and in building cooperative relationships between urban groups and rural First Nations communities. The partners include:
- The Lt. Governor of British Columbia and the Government House Foundation
- Rotary Clubs of District 5040
- First Nations of British Columbia
- Socially responsible businesses in British Columbia
- Non-profit societies with an interest in literacy
- The general public
The first step in the Write to Read Project is to secure donations of books appropriate for school age children. Secondly, donation of computers and high-speed broadband connections will allow children to access information from the world wide web under close supervision. Portable trailers are needed to act as libraries and gathering places for the First Nations communities in which they will be located.
Trained professionals and trades people are encouraged to contribute their skills and time to assist with the construct of concrete foundations, platforms, wiring and plumbing associated with the installation of these libraries. Professionals are welcome to contribute other skills appropriate to this project, including dental and medical care.
Companies and associations that wish to lend their skills and time, and to make cash and in-kind donations, are welcome to become informal Partners in this initiative. Information about various ways to participate can be found under the Contact section of this website.
The Write to Read Project is an original initiative of the Lt. Governor of British Columbia (2008-2012), the Honourable Steven L. Point sworn-in as British Columbia’s 28th Lieutenant Governor on October 1, 2007.
In 2005, he was appointed Chief Commissioner of the British Columbia Treaty Commission. His Honour served as an elected Chief of the Skowkale First Nation for 15 years. He also served as the tribal chair of the Stó:lo Nation Government, and he was honoured as Grand Chief by the Chiefs of the Stó:lo Tribal Council. Born in Chilliwack, the Lieutenant Governor and his wife, Her Honour, Mrs. Gwendolyn Point, have four children and 13 grandchildren.
The liaison between the Government House Foundation and participating Rotary Clubs is former Regional Governor of Rotary District 5040 in BC, Bob Blacker.
Write to Read Project media components such as this website are under the direct supervision of media consultant Michael McCarthy. Michael has many years experience in global travel, fundraising, travel writing for major newspapers, and public relations. Log on to his website for more information about his philanthropic endeavours and related travel adventures. Go to the Contact section of this website to email Michael.
Government House/AFRETECH Library Response Team (LRT)
The Library Response Team is a dedicated group of volunteers who are integral to the success of the Writetoread project. Coming from Afretech Aid Society, which has been equipping and installing school and community libraries in impoverished areas in Africa and Asia for more than twenty years, these individuals are a valuable resource; they know exactly what is needed to properly set up a library, and they can do it in just a few days. Of course each installation comes after months of gathering appropriate materials, checking and sorting, and processing. Yes, it’s back to the old borrowers’ card system as electrical power is limited where the books are going. Then boxing according to category: non-fiction, adult fiction, youth fiction, and easy reading. Finally, core team members (the LRT) travel to the location of the new facility and spend long, intense days organizing and shelving the resources as well as training local people.
The fact that there is such a team speaks to the power of Rotary and a chance remark at a Vancouver Rotary Club lunch. Several Rotary World Help (RWH) directors were in attendance, and one mentioned to Bonnie Sutherland, Afretech’s President and RWH VP, that a North Vancouver Rotary was looking for help to establish a First Nations library at Rivers Inlet (Wuikinuxv). Bonnie asked: ”How many books do you need?” Then she said: ”We can supply them all,” to the startled North Van. Rotarian. One can hardly blame the Rotarian for being a bit skeptical at first. How would one know what would be appropriate? How does one find sufficient books and how many would be enough? However, many Afretech volunteers have experience either in libraries or schools as well as hands-on experience in the field; they know what needs doing and can adapt to the situation at hand.
Joining forces with the Writetoread project has meant that LRT volunteers pay close attention to those books reflecting First Nations’ interests and issues and put them aside. These are added to resources donated by sources such as the Book Warehouse and books drives. Then all books must be processed the old fashioned way given the remote locations where the books are going. And while there is a core LRT group, a project of this magnitude requires additional man (more correctly “people” power) and so a group of support workers – some again from Afretech and others from the sponsoring Rotary – help with the labour intensive preparation phase.
At the moment the Halalt Library near Chemainus and the Yunesetin Library out of Williams Lake are up and running. The Rivers Inlet books have been fully processed and are ready to go, as are the books for Malahat and Fort Rupert. Meanwhile those for Haida Gwai have been sorted and boxed. This represents a huge amount of work on the part of the LRT and their support volunteers, but everyone is more than happy to contribute because this is a project with tangible results. Most importantly, First Nations’ communities have an accessible and valuable resource.