Currently First Nation Youth in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities are on average 4-5 years behind in reading and literacy skills and most live in impovershed conditions. (source: http://www.nan.on.ca/upload/documents/education-report-feb2012-final.pdf) Youth in these communities have the highest suicide rates in Canada, occuring roughly 5 to 6 times more often than non-Aboriginal Youth. ( source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/pubs/promotion/_suicide/prev_youth-jeunes/index-eng.php) The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is comprised of 49 First Nation communities, covering two-thirds of northern Ontario. There are over 10, 000 students in these communites who struggle with little to no access to reading materials and no public libraries. Students in these communities will grow up with only owning one book in their life, and most never complete high school. The Nishnawbe Aski Nation is 90% isolated with 28 of those 49 communities 'fly-in' only. The current education funding formula is outdated and doesn't take into account the high cost of shipping to these remote communities. Families must struggle to afford the high cost of food and neccessities so items like books and learning games are not affordable or accessible in communities.
We call ourselves TEEN SISTERS on a mission to BRING BOOKS and IMPROVE LITERACY among Aboriginal Youth. In 2012 we sent over 10,000 books to 24 'fly-in' only communties through a generous discount with a local airline. We have charter planes and boat planes to put books into the hands of First Nation Youth and our mission has only just begun.
We started buying books at second hand stores and garage sales in 2011 and after purchasing close to 400 books we contacted a national newspaper during the summer of 2012 and told them what we did and what we were going to do. After stumbling on a 20-year study from the University of Nevada which showed having books in the home increased the level of education in children, regardless of where you lived or if you were rich or poor, we knew how important our mission was to send books to our fellow brothers and sisters to the north. The report identified that having as few as 20 books in the home had a huge impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education. The more books you had, the greater the benefit. Needlesstosay, Emma and I have always loved reading and we couldn't imagine a life with books... a life without dreams and possibilities. We knew the key to Education success was having reading and literacy skills so embark on organizing book drives in our local communties, sorting, recording and boxing thousands and thousands of books. During this time we met with key local and provincial politiican and high profile Aboriginal leaders.
With over 10,000 students in these communties we are determined to provide an ENORMOUS supply of reading material to each communtiy by sending the books directly to school or Chiefs and councils of the communities. The books then are re-distributed to the students and shared. This past December we celebrated sending over 10, 000 books to 24 'fly in' only communities. We did this together working 8 -12 hours a day during the summer months and 2-4 hours a night after school in our basement. We currently have another 3000 books waiting to be shiped in February to the remaining 25 communities. Our mission is not completed, but rather just begun. These communities need more than books to ensure literacy success... they need literacy tools like paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, games, flashcards, construction paper, crafts and so much more. We continue to organize book drives for gently used books in our communties and across our province, but we need desperate funding to buy those much needed literacy supplies. When we have put books in the empty shelves of schools and homes of the First Nation People of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, then our mission would be near completed. When we see the literacy rates of children and teens equal to the kids in southern Ontario, then our mission would be close to over. When we see First Nation youth complete high school with rates similar to ours here in southern Ontario and rates of sucide drop drastically to comparable levels... then our mission will be complete. We hope our vision to make a postiive difference in the lives of those who are in our 'own backyard' will compel you to consider us for your genersous grant!