The Write to Read Project BC is an equal partnership between participating Indigenous communities, Rotarians, and of volunteers with a range of diverse skills represented on the Write to Read Team. This partnership brings together people who have an interest in increasing literacy through equitable access to literacy materials for rural, isolated or under-served Indigenous communities. The collaboration creates relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities through shared power, and builds on a foundation of honesty, trust and equitable respect for and sharing of knowledge, in the larger pursuit of social justice. The Write to Read Project (aka “W2R”) is an original initiative of Indigenous judge and former Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Steven Point and his Aide de Camp Bob Blacker, a past District Governor of Rotary District 5040. Support and involvement in the project was continued by Steven Point’s successor, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.
The primary focus of W2R is to work with Indigenous communities in isolated and under-served areas with limited access to literacy materials and to a designated, nearby learning centre or library. Working with a community-led model and mindset, Write to Read brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens in order to break down social barriers, to build bridges across cultures and re-establish positive relationships. The efforts to improve literacy support accessible, higher educational attainment, social services and improved employment opportunities. It is a solid example of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Write to Read works with Rotary clubs and other partners to secure essentials, including literacy materials appropriate for all ages. The focus is on a designated centre for local Indigenous educators to offer books, computers or tablets, and high speed Internet connections for online learning for their community, from youth to Elders. The inclusion of culturally relevant programs, books and online materials by and about Indigenous people and culture is essential.
Aside from Rotarians, trained professionals have joined to assist with the installation of these libraries and learning centres, including people from the building trades, public safety, architecture, early childhood education, librarianship, engineering, web design, and tech support, etc. Using a community led method, they respond to the needs expressed by Indigenous Elders, educators and residents. The W2R Library Response Team is dedicated to gathering books, checking and sorting for appropriate titles, processing and cataloging. This team and other volunteers travel to the new W2R centres, organizing and shelving the books, furniture and technology, as well as collaborating with local Indigenous volunteers to take on the operation for each centre.