Literacy Project Expanding By Leaps And Bounds

What started off as a small idea to provide a modular trailer to serve as a library for the Toosie band in Riske Creek has taken off like wildfire. The Lt. Governor’s Aboriginal Literacy Project is now expanding exponentially as the word gets out. One key figure on the project is ex-Rotary Governor Bob Blacker, who has been acting as the “point man” in much of the progress.

His Honour Steven Point and aid de camp Bob Blacker (left) have toured many First Nations communities

Travelling as an aid de camp with His Honour Stephen Point to many isolated communities around the province, Blacker has assisted in making key partnerships between Rotary clubs and various First Nations. Special to the Write to Read website, Blacker files the following report.


Progress for the Rivers Inlet Project (Wuikinuxv or Oweekeno) has been exceptional.  As a result of the two trips that we have had going into Oweekeno with Christoph Neufeld from Britco and our architect Scott Kemp has produced plans for the building, and a supplies list of required materials.  The two trips have now enabled us to have Vancouver Coastal Health as a partner, as they have provided us with a means to apply for $25,000 to go towards the construction of the building.

The building itself has expanded exponentially as a result of meeting with the Oweekeno team and brainstorming what would work for the community. This meeting produced what we now call the Child of the Big House and it will 80′ x 110′, it will have a concrete pad 6″ thick reinforced with re-bar.  As you can imagine the amount of cement we would require is daunting which caused us to look for a cement batch plant that would make the cement in a quarter of the time if we brought in small mixers. With that in mind the community and I went on a search to find such a plant, well as everything has gone with this project we have been able to find a supplier of such a machine and that company is willing to help us.  This is huge as the cost would have been prohibitive to pay for this particular machine.

Schools and libraries, such as this one in Port Simpson, are integral to the growth of literacy

Schools and libraries, such as this one in Port Simpson, are integral to the growth of literacy

I am in the process of speaking with the company Surespan. Scott Kemp and I have spoken with the Richmond Firefighters and have left them with plans of the building.  They are very anxious to get moving but because of the summer leave factor cannot start until September.  Now that we have a batch plant for the foundations and cement pad the scheduling of the firefighters will be a lot easier and we feel we should have the pad done before the end of September and be well on the way in constructing the building.

Western Forrest Products and Interfor are donating the logs to the community.  The community in turn will be milling the lumber as to the specs provided by Scott Kemp.  Of interest we need two beams 110′ in length.  The community and the two lumber companies are looking for those two trees as we speak and are very confident that we can find them.  If we do the Creator again is working with us. This by far is the largest project we have ever done with the Government House/Rotary Literacy Project. Logistically it has been a huge challenge but we have managed to work our way through it.


This community is just south of Chemainus and came to our notice in January.  The Success by 6 Coordinator for the area, Ada Mawson approached me in relation to providing a library for the community.  As a result Ada, Christoph Neufeld and myself attend a meeting at Halalt in March.  There is a definite need for a community Library and as a result we are now working with the community to locate a Britco module on site.  Things are moving very quickly with the community as they have been committed to make this work and are doing everything that will ensure this will happen.  The Rotary Club of Steveston, Chemainus and Parksville will be partnering together on this project.  We expect the library to be ready for opening by His Honour before his term ends.


This community is now firmly on our radar and I have now secured a Rotary Club to adopt the community.  The Rotary Club of Saanich (after His Honour’s recent visit) will be adopting the community to start working towards a library/cultural centre.  The club along with Brenda Rothwell (Success by 6), His Honor and myself need to go into the community to set things up to start the process of planning and bringing in the Britco module.

His Honour Stephen Point met aboriginal leaders in Haida Gwaii

His Honour Stephen Point met with aboriginal leaders in Haida Gwaii


We have had our first conference with the band members from Old Massett, myself, Beng Favreau (Literacy Haida Gwaii) and Christoph Neufeld from Britco.  What has to happen now is for me to find a Rotary Club to adopt the community and start working towards getting a Britco module to the community for the first ever Aboriginal Library.  The community are very excited that we are preparing to do that, having visited the community with His Honour has made it easier to get things done.

The Watchmen stand careful guard over Haida legacies in the village of Ninstints

The Watchmen stand careful guard over Haida legacies in the village of Ninstints


As a result of visiting this community recently with His Honour & Jamie we have had positive responses from the community.  Brenda Rothwell and I, along with a representative from the community, are now going to start the process of having our first ever Elders library, specifically for the elders to go and relax, read and do their crafts.  This has been something that the community really wanted so Brenda and I are setting up a conference to get things moving.


Nemiah has just come on board in relation to wanting a community library.  This is going to be another logistical challenge as Nemiah is on Chilco Lake which is 4.5-hrs drive from Williams Lake.  Our Rotary folks on the ground in the area have told me that this community recently heard about the project and have seen what has happened in Toosey and Stone and are very excited that there is something like this that is available to them.  Shirley Pat Gale, our main lead in the Chilcotin, has made contact with the community and we are going to set up a conference with them.

Computers are the key to literacy, as seen in the new library at Toosie

Computers are the key to literacy, as seen in the new library at Toosie


This community has been on our radar for some time and it appears that we can get moving with them.  I have two Rotary Clubs willing to partner with the community (located north of Williston Lake) so we are in the process of seeing what can be done.  This location would be another huge logistical challenge to us.


We now have a date for the building to be opened, that will be September 11th, 2012  everything is moving along nicely, this is going to be a great day for His Honour and I as this is our second building to be opened.


We had our third clinic on July 12,13,14, 2012 at the Hulhetun Health Centre which is located just south of Chemainus.  We looked at patients from 5 communities, Halalt, Lyackson, Chemainus, Penelakut, and Malahat.  Because the health centre has a state of the art dental office we will be able to do root canals as we have the top specialist in Vancouver with us as part of our team.  We are also making plans for the first ever clinic for the Chilcotin area. That will be held at Anahim, tentatively to take place September 2013.

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