The NWT Literacy Council is inviting residents to take part in online games and activities on Jan. 27 to celebrate the 22nd annual National Family Literacy Day. 

But the learning and fun extend beyond a single day. From Jan. 25-Jan. 31, the council is encouraging NWT families to choose from a list of activities and share a photo of their participation for a chance to win a literacy-themed prize pack. 

Amal Al Harazi and Ibrahim Abdu at a Family Literacy session hosted by NWT Literacy Council’s Community Connections early last year.
photo courtesy of Katie Johnson

In accordance with this year’s theme travel the world together the literary council has set out 10 possible literacy-themed programs including researching a new country, trying a recipe for an international dish, drawing the flags of the world or having a dance party to a song in another language. 

While some of the suggested activities may not fit directly with the reading and writing skills that literacy is often associated with, literacy is actually about much more than that, NWT Literacy Council (NWTLC) family and community literacy coordinator Katie Johnson said.

“We want people to be lifelong learners,” she said. “If we only focused on reading and writing, it doesn’t provide as many holistic tools for lifelong learning.” 

That’s why the NWTLC broadens its definition of literacy to include cooking, sewing, beading, crafting, language skills, reading the land, and more, to encourage a range of skills and competencies important for NWT residents. 

The council is also supporting community organizations across the territory who are organizing events of their own. Among them, l’école Allain St. Cyr, who’s holding a parent-and-child writing project for families to represent their dream vacation by poem, song or photo. 

Zakaria Traore, the school’s cultural facilitator, said the activity promotes creativity and imagination, skills that have become increasingly critical living in what he calls the Covid context.  

At a time when residents are being asked to stay home, “this idea permits them to travel by their creation,” Traore said. 

ABC Life Literacy, a non-profit based in Toronto, spearheads the nationwide National Family Literacy Day festivities and sets the annual theme while the NWTLC takes the reins for the territory. 

Johnson said the NWTLC doesn’t always comply with ABC Life Literacy’s annual theme, but “the team thought (travel the world together) was a great idea because literacy and imagination are great ways to explore without having to leave the community,” she said. “By using literacy skills, digital literacy skills and looking at maps and charts, we can learn so much about the world from our own homes.” 

Seham Mohamed and Yazan Al Hajjy at a Speak English Café session the literary council hosted last year prior to the pandemic.
photo courtesy of Katie Johnson.

Johnson also emphasized the family portion of the event. 

“It helps to lay building blocks for children but provides an opportunity for parents and caregivers to increase their own literacy and skills as well,” she said. 

NWTLC promotes literacy in all 11 official NWT languages and encourages residents to seek resources in any of them.

In general, while the council offers resources for anyone interested, NWTLC aims to build capacity and work with community members who can facilitate programming tailored to their own communities. 

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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