Cote First Nation youths participate in three-week literacy summer camp

As many as two dozen youths from Cote First Nation were involved last month in a three-week summer camp with an emphasis on literacy.

Four camp counsellors from Cote First Nation were hired to receive four days of training by Frontier College, said information from Carol Marriott, who as literacy co-ordinator for the Parkland Regional Library’s literacy hub, was involved in the program by providing support, programming and supplies.

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Hired for the training were: Denise Cote, Gloria Pelly, Gina Cote and Sharon Pelly and the three weeks of camp activities were held at the Chief Gabriel Cote Education Complex.

In addition to the daily camp activities, which included a hot breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks, there were three field trips, Marriott said. One of the trips was to the Duck Mountain Ambulance Care base, with a stop after at Kandy’s Korner for ice cream.

Another field trip was to visit the Kamsack Petro- Canada, with a tour of its whole facility led by James Perry, who provided free slushies for all the kids and counsellors and an additional donation from Petro-Canada of $100 in gas vouchers to help with transportation, plus another 40 free slushie coupons for the kids and their families.

The children also visited Ravenheart Farms to read to the horses and enjoy literacy games and refreshments, she said.

A number of special guests also came out to the camp to read to the kids. They included: James Perry, manager of Kamsack Petro-Canada; Cst. Nelson Klattenhoff of the Kamsack RCMP; Kevin Fenwick, deputy minister of justice; Corey O’Soup, assistant deputy minister of Aboriginal and Métis affairs; Rhonda Taylor, regional manager of Frontier College in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and Kathy Sharp-Trebish, literacy co-ordinator for the Yorkton Tribal Council.

As Canada’s original non-profit literacy organization, Frontier College recruits and trains thousands of volunteers each year to deliver literacy programs to children, youth and adults in communities across the country, said Meredith Roberts, manager of special events and media relations for Frontier College.

“We are committed to helping Canadians improve their literacy, by providing learning opportunities where they are most often limited: in priority neighbourhoods, remote and rural communities and in Aboriginal communities,” Roberts said.

“One of Frontier College’s popular programs is run in the summertime: the Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps,” she said. “This summer, over 6,000 children are participating in 121 literacy camps, including 31 in Saskatchewan.

“Through games, arts and crafts, cultural activities and field trips, kids are developing language, literacy and numeracy skills. These camps respond to a need for quality educational supports over the summer months.”

The camps began 10 years ago as the vision of James K. Bartleman, a former lieutenant governor of Ontario, and member of the Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation, Roberts said. The camp program has grown from five communities in Northern Ontario to 99 communities across Canada. The first camps in Saskatchewan began in 2010.

One of the highlights for campers is receiving free books to build their own personal libraries, she said. For many of these children, this will be their very first book.

Children at the 2014 Summer Literacy Camps in Saskatchewan read approximately 14 books each and each camper took part in an average of five daily group reading activities, she said. More than 30,000 free, high-quality books were sent home and 96 per cent of the parents said their children had an improved attitude towards books and learning.