Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Schools Read 50,239 Books in WOW! Reading Challenge

Pictou Landing Elementary School and Unama’ki Training and Education Centre in Eskasoni took home gold in their age groups during the 2013-14 WOW Words of Wonder Reading Challenge.

The Adopt-a-Library Program, founded by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable John Kennedy, was established to prevent criminal behavior among youth through the promotion of literacy via libraries and schools. The Program’s WOW! Reading Challenge is an annual contest that encourages literacy development and healthy competition.

This year’s program saw record-breaking participation and reading results in Mi’kmaw schools across Nova Scotia. A total of 2,739 Aboriginal students and 13 schools took part.

Unama’ki TEC principal Vivian Basque says reading books is especially critical for First Nation students because it gives them exposure to words in different contexts, thus improving speaking and writing fluency. This is the second year students at Unama’ki TEC, an adult learning centre in Eskasoni, have participated in the program, earning gold both years.

“Things can be taken from you – your job, possessions, health – but you can never lose your knowledge,” said Basque. “We’re proud of our adult learners who invested in themselves and read hundreds of books.”

This is the fourth year that Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) schools have participated in the reading challenge. Through the Adopt-a-Library program, MK aims to increase book collections, develop safe communities, and build programming surrounded by respect, sense of community, self-esteem and pride. Over the past year, MK’s literacy development efforts have put more than $300,000 worth of books into its schools.

“Since the Adopt-a-Library Program has come to MK communities we have seen not only an increase in our students’ academic reading levels, but more importantly, an increase in their love of reading,” says Rebecca Scirocco-Paul, Literacy Programs Coordinator at MK. “Our students are now realizing that reading is not just something that happens at schools; it also can happen at home.”

Wagmatcookewey School took Silver in the First Nation Elementary division. Also taking Silver was Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School in the First Nation Junior High division.

Mi’kmaw schools that were deemed champions in previous years competed this year in the Past Champions division. Membertou Elementary and We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School were gold and silver medal winners in this category. We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School and Wagmatcookewey School were gold and silver medal winners in the First Nation Junior High Past Champions Division. LSK Junior High School, We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School, and Mi’kmawey Elementary were also named First Nation winners in their respective Colchester, Inverness, and Richmond Counties.