"My greatest wish is that there will be more writing from my people, and that our children will read it. I have said again and again that our history would be different if it had been expressed by us." - Rita Joe
It was with this quote in mind that Allison Bernard Memorial High School staff decided to organize the first annual Rita Joe Memorial Literacy Day in the hope that students would be inspired to read, write, and create their own stories; and they were. Staff, presenters, and, most importantly, students all took away something positive from the event.
Since 2012, Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, NS has been hosting its annual Rita Joe Memorial Literacy Day to honour the Mi'kmaq poet and author and to celebrate the literary talents of Mi'kmaq youth who attend the school. Each year, authors, dramatists, illustrators, and song writers gather at the school to facilitate workshops for students, stressing the importance of literacy and the role it plays within our lives.
This year, the event has expanded to include students from the nearby Mi’kmaq communities of We’koqma’q and Wagmatcook. In all, approximately 300 students are expected to attend.
This year’s lineup of guests is impressive, including several presenters who have won awards in their respective fields. Local authors including Frank MacDonald, Larry Gibbons, Jesse Ferguson, and Sherry D. Ramsey will facilitate writing workshops for students. Artists Terry MacDonald, Brianna Paul, and Gerald Gloade will work with students in the area of visual literacy. Drama workshops will be led by Mark Delaney, Bonnie MacLeod, and Nicole MacDougall. Gearl Francis of City Natives, Carmen Townsend, Alicia Penney, and Jocelyn Marshall will round out the day with song writing workshops.
The third annual Rita Joe Memorial Literacy Day takes place on Friday, May 30, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. For more information, contact Chris Gallant, Co-chair of the Rita Joe Memorial Literacy Day Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 902-379-3000.