Last August, in response to COVID-related school closures, a group of teens came together in Salluit to see how they could provide their community with access to books. In just a few weeks, their determination and creativity resulted in a wonderful initiative: The Salluit Mobile Library Project.
The goal was simply to offer books and literacy programming such as storytelling sessions, reading activities for preschoolers, and other fun activities that allowed participants to play with letters and words. The three team members—local high school students Martha Keatainak, Victoria Padlayat, and George Qavavau—handled every aspect of the setup and deployment of the project: fundraising, program planning, and delivery. It only took the group a few weeks to get organized and enable the new Mobile Library service. ESUMA, Frontier College, Qarjuit, and KRG partnered together to bring support to the initiative.
The team believes that making books available to everyone is a way to help the community and benefit younger generations. They work a maximum of eight hours a week to maintain focus on their studies. Some say that it helped them in learning new words and expanding their vocabularies. The team also feels it was easier than anticipated to lead fun small literacy activities, such as reading circles at the local daycare.
“We are always amazed by how much the kids participate in our reading circles and activities,” said the team. “Even late in the afternoon, the kids are always motivated to play with words, practice the alphabet and counting, and make up stories.”
The group even started the Ikusik Sign Language Club, a weekly club where participants learn and practice American Sign Language (ASL), in support of their 11-year-old peer, Annie. Together with Annie’s education assistant, Amama, they are working to become fluent in ASL and make literacy opportunities more accessible for everybody.
In its mission to encourage literary, cultural, and artistic programming, the Salluit Mobile Library Project has also received generous book donations, which they will give to the local Youth House. They have already begun setting up a permanent reading room, with the support of the Inuit Youth Committee. This space is dedicated to offering an alternative, accessible, and safe environment for youth to relax, enjoy books, and share stories.
In the future, the team wishes to embark on other initiatives, including a journalism program and collaborations with the local Greenhouse Project. Some of these team members are motivated to lead this year’s summer literacy activities and to continue working with local organizations in offering expanded educational resources for their community. People from other communities in Nunavik who are interested in the Mobile Library Project should contact Frontier College or ESUMA to find out how they can get started.