Prince Albert non-profit awarded for literacy work with Indigenous, newcomer communities

Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross (left) presents the Council of the Federation Literacy Award to Sandra Williams (right), vice-chair of the Prince Albert Literacy Network. – Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Literacy Network has received a national award for its work with newcomers and Indigenous peoples.

Northcote MLA Alana Ross presented the Council of the Federation Literacy Award to the organization on Friday. 

Canada’s premiers created the award in 2004. It’s presented annually in each of the provinces and territories.

“I think that we all could agree that the ability to read, the ability to communicate, the ability to write, the ability to be comfortable in mathematics is an important part of our lives,” said Sandra Williams, vice-chair of the literacy network.

“Because that is our mandate and our mission, it just feels very exciting to be recognized for something that we do every day.”

This year’s award was focused on the use of home and heritage languages.

Williams said the literacy network has prioritized four calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

These calls include developing cultural parenting and early childhood education programs, eliminating education and employment gaps, and drafting new Indigenous education legislation that protects traditional languages and Treaty relationships.

“(We want to) do our part to support the learning and the growth in that area,” said Williams.

The non-profit provides free literacy programming for children and adults. This includes family literacy kits and story sacks, free little libraries, story walks, financial literacy workshops and tutoring.

The literacy network is also partnered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which gives free books to children up to five years old.

“As we like to say here, it’s never too early to start and it’s never too late to start,” said Williams.

Ross said it’s crucial to celebrate and recognize organizations that go the extra mile to help people with their communication skills.

“I have a son who has ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). We found out as an adult, and extra opportunities like this weren’t available to him when he was growing up,” she said.

“It’s such a benefit to have a resource like this in our community.”

According to a news release, over 200 families participated in the literacy network’s programming and special activities during the 2022-23 school year. During that time period, it also hosted 42 workshops and welcomed 335 participants.

Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill also congratulated the literacy network on receiving a national award.

“The Prince Albert Literacy Network strives to create awareness about the positive impact of literacy for children and adults in a unique, inclusive and culturally responsible way,” he said.

The literacy network will be set up at the farmer’s market on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with treats, balloons and books. It’s also hosting a story walk from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Gateway Mall.

These events celebrate International Literacy Day on Friday.