Prioritizing Indigenous literacy and learning

“Through the women’s literacy group, I have experienced the amazing impact the Community Literacy Catalyst (CLC) project can have,” shared a Ditidaht First Nation CLC participant. “Many women in my community are isolated, as we are a remote and rural reserve with very limited service, and a wide variety of challenges rooted in colonialism. This group brings us together and creates a space in which we talk, eat, share, create and heal.”

Thanks in part to a $10,025 Island Savings Community Endowment grant, Frontier College, and its Community Literacy Catalyst project, have partnered with Ditidaht First Nation to directly serve 50 youth, adults, Elders, and Indigenous learners living in and around Lake Cowichan, Port Alberni, and Nitinat Lake on Vancouver Island. The CLC program addresses issues of accessibility by bringing learning to the learners without the added barrier of technology.

Working in partnership with Ditidaht First Nation since 2019, Frontier College helps Community Learning Catalysts provide contextually appropriate and effective programming with flexible delivery methods to learn in person, online, or even sitting around the community fire pit. Frontier College hires, trains, and provides ongoing mentorship, professional development, and support to two Ditidaht First Nation Community Literacy Catalysts via a trainer-mentor partnership. Working together and with members of the Indigenous community, they create literacy programming to address local needs.

Innovative programs and supports aimed at literacy and personal capacity building help foster stronger, happier, healthier lives. Programs include those which reduce stigmas, cursive writing, individual tutoring and homework support, book distribution, summer literacy camps, arts and culture groups and reading circles. The Ditidaht First Nation CLC program is making a difference for Indigenous learners of all ages.

“I used to have library day as part of my program, but the kids avoided it, they never showed up” said a Ditidaht CLC working with youth. “Now that we have the literacy program, when I don’t put “library day” on the schedule, the kids come asking me for it.”

Strong partnerships are key to the success of the Community Literacy Catalyst project and the experiences of the Ditidaht Community Literacy Catalysts highlight the tremendous impact their literacy programming is having.