It may be a long way from Mission to the remote First Nations community of Lax Kw’alaams – formerly known as Port Simpson – but Mission is known there.
The Rotary Club of Mission has given the community the gift of its first ever library.
When Janet Chalmers, Mission Rotary’s past president, was president in 2015-16, her presidential theme was embracing literacy. She chose the building of a library in the First Nations Community as her major project.
With community support throughout the year, the club was able to allocate $5,000 to the project – while still supporting many local programs – and double that with a $5,000 grant. That, and the club members who volunteered to do the actual set-up, allowed the Mission morning club to bring the new library to life this past October.
Rotarians Janet Chalmers, Louise Lacerte, Lloyd Rash and Bill Dickson, along with Friend of Rotary Roger Dowker, made the trip to install the library.
“It was a lot of work,” said Chalmers, “but very much worth it. In just two and a half days we watched an empty room become a functioning library, and the kids were coming in even before we finished. It was really fun”.
Lax Kw’alaams is the 20th First Nations community to have a new library since the ongoing provincial initiative, Write2Read, first began in 2009.
How it began:
Right2Read had its beginnings with Rotarian Bob Blacker.
Then a retired police officer from the Vancouver area, Blacker had been assigned to Lieutenant Governor Steven Point’s staff and he took the opportunity to tell Point about the work Rotary does to promote literacy around the world.
When asked by Point what Rotary did in “its own backyard,” Blacker decided to find out.
What he found was that in B.C. fewer than 30 per cent of the First Nations communities have a library. In some communities more than 65 per cent of indigenous people over the age of 15 do not have the literacy and essential skills to cope with the challenges of everyday life.
Through Rotary and other contacts, Blacker was able to find support from eight public and private organizations to create the program.