Students at Nanaimo’s Nisaika Kum’Tuks Elementary Centre no longer have to go far to find a good book.
The public school celebrated the official opening of its first library Tuesday with Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.
It’s a new chapter for the centre and its 30 students, who previously walked to the public library for books. Now, iPads, computers, video conferencing and children’s and adults’ books are at the fingertips of students and their families, thanks to Write to Read B.C., a partnership between indigenous communities, Rotarians and Government House to help with graduation rates and improve literacy and access to libraries.
Since the initiative was begun by former lieutenant-governor of B.C. Steven Point, 16 libraries have been opened, including this one, and the creation was a community effort. Contributions were made by Nanaimo area rotary clubs, the Young Professionals of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Foundation and inmates of the Nanaimo Correctional Centre, who built the bookshelves.
Write to Read B.C. could create two more libraries in Nanaimo at Snuneymuxw First Nation and Sanala townhouse complex, but this is the last to be opened by Guichon, whose appointment is coming to an end.
“I’m a little bit sad about that. It’s been a wonderful job and to serve has been such an honour and to have learned about and been involved with the library project has been great learning,” said Guichon, who added that the libraries are, as Point said, opening up a world for children and now that they’re also being hooked up to the internet, puts the world at their fingertips.
Students gave a resounding “Huy ch q’u,” or ‘thank you,’ for community support, before acting out a storybook, singing and drumming at the event. David Tom, a Grade 3 student, cut the ribbon with Guichon.
“In some ways it feels like Christmas has come a little bit early in Nanaimo when we get to come together and celebrate a gift like this,” said Chris Beaton, executive director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre.
Vice-principal Heather Goodall said: “To all of you that contributed to this, it is amazing.”
She told the News Bulletin that the kids love the library and find it a comforting place to be. It’s been named the Hummingbird’s Nest, in recognition of the classroom spirit animal, the hummingbird, and the motto to persevere.
It’s the first time Write to Read B.C. has done a library project in an urban aboriginal school. The two-classroom centre for kindergarten to Grade 6 is within the Vancouver Island West School District and opened on Fifth Street in 2014, as a partnership between Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, Mid Island Métis Nation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island.