Why We Do It

Books With Wings is based on the premise that literacy and education are crucial to improving the lives of First Nations children. Literacy is essential to future employment, opportunity, and sustainable living. The literacy rates and levels of education of First Nations children and adults (particularly those living on reserve), are far inferior to those of non-aboriginals living in Canada.[1] According to a recent article in the National Post, “[u]pwards of 60% of the roughly 110,000 students in hundreds of on-reserve schools across the country will fail to complete high school, and fewer than 30,000 of Canada’s million aboriginals have university degrees.”[2] Moreover, a First Nations child receives approximately $2000 less in government funding than a non-indigenous child.[3] While these discrepancies cannot be solved through any one initiative in education, Books With Wings hopes to complement current government projects in literacy to provide children with storybooks of their own. The books will thus travel from one child to another, “with wings”, uniting cultures and educating non-aboriginal families on the current crisis in literacy which affects thousands of First Nations children.

[1] Priscilla George, “First Nations Literacy in Ontario,Chiefs of Ontario 19 April 2011:8, <http://chiefs-of-ontario.org/Assets/First%20Nations%20Literacy%20in%20Ontario.pdf>. See also Michael Mendelson,approximately 60 percent of First Nations on-reserve residents aged 20 to 24 still have not completed high school or obtained an alternative diploma or certificate. [...] Had educational outcomes on reserve been improving in the last several years, better results should have been apparent in the 2006 Census [...]. Instead we are seeing no improvement at all. Indeed, the static educational attainment data imply that educational outcomes for residents on reserve are actually getting worse in relative terms.” “Improving Education in Reserves: A First Nations Education Authority Act,” July 2008: 1, The Caledon Institute of Social Policy, 22 April 2011. <http://www.caledoninst.org/Publications/PDF/684ENG.pdf>.

[2] Kathryn Blaze Carlson. “Push Reset Button, Smash Status Quo.” National Post, 14 October 2011.

[3] “Local Spotlight: Aboriginal Education,” Free the Children, 23 November 2011 http://www.freethechildren.com/getinvolved/youth/campaigns/campaigns.php?type=local_spotlight_aboriginal_education