Chili lunch supports Frontier College Aboriginal Literacy Camps

By Jan Buley, Special to The Lambda

On Feb. 9, the Equity and Social Justice Committee in the School of Education held a chili lunch, and all of the proceeds went towards the Frontier College Aboriginal Literacy Camps in Canada.

Frontier College is a non-profit organization that has been a partner of Laurentian University’s School of Education for eight years, offering students placements with their community programming, exceptional learning opportunities, and professional development and supervising undergraduate preservice teacher candidates.

Frontier College has a history of helping with literacy initiatives dating back to 1899, when the founder of the college, Alfred Fitzpatrick, linked mining and forestry labourers with co-workers who needed literacy skills.

Before long, Frontier College had branched out across the country, offering tutoring and teaching sessions to marginalized populations including homeless street youth, prisoners, newcomer Canadians and persons with physical and mental challenges. Peter Gzowski, a long-time celebrated journalist with CBC, was a great supporter and believer in the work of Frontier College until his death. In fact, Frontier College’s office in Toronto is housed in Gzowski House, in recognition of his support and patronage to the organization. The belief that “literacy is a right” has been the motto for the organization since its inception and today, thousands of volunteers assist with the literacy work of Frontier College all across Canada.

Proceeds of the lunch were given directly to the Lieutenant-Governor.  The literacy camps are organized and run by Frontier College in over eighty First Nations communities in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nunavut and Quebec.

In 2014, six thousand children attended the Aboriginal literacy camps, nation-wide. In 2015, literacy camps took place in 99 communities and in 8 provinces and territories. Parents in the communities were surveyed, and 93% of them said that their children had an improved and positive attitude towards books and reading in general.

In just under ten years, there are now eighty camps being offered across Canada. The Committee is honoured to contribute to this worthy endeavor.

-Photo by Amber Tulloch