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From our Staff

Frank, Receptionist, Toronto
My love of reading began at the age of 4 on my mother’s knee. It is my mother who taught me to read and write and I can still recall the look of mutual astonishment on our faces when it was evident that I was not only understanding and repeating but ultimately reading the words of the primary colours illustrated in bright circles in a pre-school reader. We were never so pleased with ourselves and one another than at that moment.

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Cory, National Programs Support Manager, Toronto
For me, literacy is access and inclusion. It is the ability to work in and with your community confidently. Our role with FC is to work with communities (as many as possible) to understand what that empowerment might look like. For me, it has been helping a construction pre-apprentice read a tape measure with ease so they can advance further in their career. It’s been sharing a bowl of Cheerios at 7am with that same pre-apprentice the morning of their first trade school exam (because skipping breakfast that day just wasn’t an option). And it’s always been developing programming collaboratively with learners.
 
In 1991 my father gave me a big box full of old X-Men, Spiderman and Batman comics. I tore through them all about fifty times each. He and I would chat about how strong Batman was or how complicated the X-Men Phoenix Saga felt (I still think it’s a tricky storyline TBH). And from all that I discovered that what I love so much about reading, be it those comics or later on novels about dreary river towns in Northern NB, is talking to people about the things we have read. I want to hear how people reacted to a character, or how we have different thoughts about a story. I don’t care if you are reading a novel or a math textbook, I promise I want to chat about it. And in that sense, working at FC and having the opportunity to work with so many different people on things they have read or want to read is a privilege.
 
I still keep a collection of classic comics in my office; they are both a reminder and a resource.

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Emily, Community Coordinator, Edmonton
For me, literacy can come in different forms and should be nurtured in a safe, non-judgmental space. One of the most frustrating feelings can be having a story or experience, and not having the ability to express it to others. Literacy combats this. I like the definition of literacy being more than just the ability to read and write: literacy is about strengthening culture, achieving goals, gaining knowledge, and recognizing potential. When someone can understand the printed word and put it to use, they can tell their story, increase awareness in community, and have a better standard of living.
 
I come from a mixed-race background and growing up I had, and still do, have issues with identity. When you don’t see yourself represented in stories it can bounce back and impact such things like confidence and self-worth. There is danger in the “single story” phenomenon, where the same class of privileged groups tell their story over and over again until it is an accepted, idolized norm.

#LiteracyMatters because when someone improves their literacy they gain more confidence in sharing their story with other unheard voices that are silenced due to lack of literacy support. It makes me sad to think of people who never grew up with access to books or without encouraging role models at some point in their education journey. This is the unfortunate reality for Indigenous communities that are still experiencing the horrific legacy of residential schools, or newcomers who need to adjust to different institutional education styles while simultaneously learning another language and culture. At the end of the day, literacy creates a more empathetic and safe place to live in—a space where we can value and celebrate the differences and similarities between us.

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Frank, Receptionist, Toronto

Meet Frank!

My love of reading began at the age of four on my mother’s knee. It is my mother who taught me to read and write, and I can still recall the look of mutual astonishment on our faces when it was evident that I was not only understanding and repeating but ultimately reading the words of the primary colours illustrated in bright circles in a pre-school reader. We were never so pleased with ourselves and one another than at that moment.

Fast forward to Grade 1, and I still remember a story we read in class about a lonely little fir tree in the forest that always got passed over at Xmas time but was finally chosen one year by a child who understood that small is beautiful too! I have searched for a copy of the book, the title of which still eludes me, but if anyone knows the answer, I’m all ears!

At the age of 8, my father returned from a trip visiting relatives in Cape Cod with his usual armfuls of presents, including salt water taffy and a book for me, a hardcover copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was initially dismayed to receive a book with nothing but girls in long skirts and petticoats on the cover, but my mother urged me to give it a whirl, and it paid off. It’s a book I still cherish.

Our school librarian turned me on to reading via the Hardy Boys series. One morning, I plotted a “Ferris Buehler” day off by feigning illness, only so that I could finish the novel I fell asleep reading from the night before. Around the same time, we began reading short stories in French in high school, and at first it was tough slogging, since I found myself circling slews of words I’d need to look up in the dictionary, but the effort paid off in the long run.

My first real challenge in writing about what I’d read were high school book reviews. Ever the procrastinator, I stayed up late one Sunday night after a day of downhill skiing writing out (by hand – it was the early '70s) a review of A Tale of Two Cities. Another time, I was rushing to complete an overdue review of Shane but the family dog, so frustrated by my devotion to the task and ignoring his pleas for attention, grabbed the paper I’d been working on and chewed it to bits. Yes, it’s true, the dog actually ATE MY HOMEWORK and I had to go back to the drawing board! #FacesOfFrontier

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