The $60,000 in funding recently received by groups in Fort St. James, to promote literacy, has Ann McCormick, Supervisor of the College of New Caledonia in Fort St. James, excited about the possibilities. It’s also the result of a lot of hard work over several years.
The three programs which received funding—the FSJ Public Library family and adult programs, and the Nak’azdli Band social Development Department—have all been running for more than five years, which enabled McCormick to apply for a newly announced three-year funding cycle. This ensures that funding for the programs will be in place through 2018.
“Having to re-apply each year is a bit stressful,” says McCormick. “When you know [in advance] you have the funding you can do strong, long-term things in the community. It enables you to do long-range planning and build on what we’ve done before.” CNC partners with the program recipients, and McCormick says the new funding will help them reach out to other groups, such as First Nations communities in Yekooche and Takla.
“We’re very fortunate in our partnerships with the library and Nak’azdli,” says McCormick. “It makes a big difference in Fort St. James.” She notes that while literacy is the focus of the programs, it comes in a variety of forms. “Digital literacy is very important, and there is a real focus in B.C. on employment literacy and literacy in the workshop.”
At its core, the focus is on lifelong learning: not just for those facing challenges, or who have gaps in their learning, but for everyone. “Family literacy helps parents engage with their children,” says McCormick. “And we have a package of learning materials and supplies that we know will work.” The Learning Hub at the corner of the Goodwin Building in Fort St. James is open from 10:00 to 3:00pm, and can be contacted at (250) 996-7078.
McCormick acknowledges the support from other organizations and community groups, such as the District of Fort St. James, the schools, businesses, and First Nations. “The ‘Literacy Lives in Fort St. James’ banners in town are a great way to show we’re working together, and help to take the stigma away from learning.”