Precious pages: 9K books going to isolated communities
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This article was published 16/02/2022 (479 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
HUNDREDS of children in remote Indigenous communities will crack open books they can call their own thanks to a charity created by a former provincial cabinet minister.
The Share the Magic Book Program has partnered with the Rotary Club of Winnipeg to get 9,000 books into the hands of children in four communities that are accessible only by air or ice road during the dead of winter.
“I’ve waited for a long time to somehow get books into the north,” said Christine Melnick, the program’s founder and executive director, on Tuesday.
“I hope this means these children will be happy and that they’ll become very interested in reading and maybe become lifelong readers. We also hope it helps raise literacy levels throughout the province.”
Lac Brochet will get 1,560 of the books, Red Sucker Lake 1,608, Manto Sipi 1,483 and Wasagamack 3,271.
Melnick, a former cabinet minister and NDP MLA in both the Doer and Selinger governments, said the new school at Wasagamack will receive 1,000 books for its library. Each community will get 100 books for adults.
She said there are enough books so that each child from age five and up will get five books apiece.
“This pandemic has been especially hard on children who are struggling through periods of isolation and lack of access to educational materials,” said Melnick.
“Not only are children affected emotionally by the pandemic, many are also falling behind in critical reading skills. These books will help them continue to discover the joy of reading.”
John Helliar, Share the Magic’s president, said in a statement “we sincerely hope that many more thousands can be sent in the years to come and that they contribute to ever growing literacy levels.”
Melnick said four pallets of books have been delivered to the communities, thanks to the support of The North West Co., with two more pallets on their way.
Melnick said thanks to a donation by Red River Co-op food stores, there are also 32,000 pieces of Hey Clay modelling clay heading to the communities.
“We are very pleased to support Share the Magic and the Rotary Club of Winnipeg in their efforts to provide books to children and families in remote northern communities,” said Andrew Thunder, the North West Co.’s director of corporate responsibility.
Melnick began Share the Magic, a registered charity, in 2003 after going to garage sales and seeing books that looked almost new or appeared to have never been opened for sale at bargain prices.
The program has donated more than 640,000 books worth more than $4.2 million.
“My aim is to get to a million books and then we’ll get to two million,” said Melnick, adding if anyone wants to donate books or provide financial support they can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Even in this time of TVs and computers, people still want books. The need is so great.”
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