How summer literacy activities remained a priority in Nunavik during the pandemic
It was March 2020 and, for the seventh year in a row, Frontier College had partnered with Makivvik and Kativik Ilisarniliriniq to set up and deliver literacy camps across Nunavik. Then it happened: the COVID pandemic hit and everything came to a halt. Children were about to face several months of being out of school and reading loss was clearly going to be a challenge. However, this virus was not going to stop Nunavimmiut from organizing literacy activities!
Frontier College and its partners quickly mobilized to rethink the offer of summer learning in the region. It became apparent that one thing and one thing only could save the day: dedicated, passionate, and creative Summer Literacy Workers!
From Kuujjuaq to Kuujjuaraapik, along the two coasts, Frontier College hired eight ‘Literacy Superheroes’, many of whom had worked as Literacy Camp Counsellors before, to offer fun and engaging literacy activities to the children through social media, radio, and in person when social distancing guidelines could be respected.
After group training, the Summer Literacy Workers were ready to use their creativity to bring literacy fun to their communities. It often started with a book and a structured activity that was easy to implement for parents and families. The overall goal remained simple: create and sustain interest in reading for children and families while allowing kids to learn about their culture and language and help them to develop their vocabulary and imagination.
Given the exceptional circumstances this summer, the Summer Literacy Workers did wonders. They distributed books and activity booklets to the children at their local store, hosted story times at playgrounds and on the radio, organized literacy games on social media, and made sure that the children of Nunavik had continuous access to learning opportunities. Here is what Tiivimasiu Qisiiq, from Kangiqsujuaq, had to say about his experience this summer:“Someone I know sent me the job posting because they thought I am a good person for this. It really gave me motivation to work with Frontier College! I am proud that I got to read to the children at our local summer camp.”
George Qavavau, from Salluit, shared the same feeling, “It has made me feel awesome! I enjoy reading and playing games with the children and I am proud of reading books with the kids because I can see that they are enjoying the stories that I read.”
Some of the literacy workers also helped share stories from elders within their community. Naina Blake, a 13-year-old student in Kuujjuaq did exactly that. “Doing this job is heartwarming, I get to interview people I don’t know and get to know them and their past. Interviewing my aunt was amazing. The old stories she told were so interesting and fun to hear, especially the one with her wanting to know how to drive her father’s canoe.”
It is difficult to foresee what the future holds but one thing is certain: there is a strong culture of literacy in Nunavik that will keep on shining and flourishing during future school years and summers, pandemic or not.