FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Toronto (June 18, 2012) – The First Nation Communities Read program is pleased to announce that Shannen and the Dream for a School is its 2012-2013 title selection for community reading.
Shannen and the Dream for a School, written by Janet Wilson and published by Second Story Press, is the true account of Shannen Koostachin, the people of Attawapiskat, and an ongoing fight for a new school.
In 1979, a fuel leak contaminated the school in Attawapiskat, a Cree community in northern Ontario. In 2008, after years of the community’s children attending school in woefully inadequate portables, 13-year-old Shannen and her friends decided to challenge the situation. They made a YouTube video describing the poor conditions and won attention and support locally and across Canada.
Buoyed by the support, Shannen and her fellow students decided to turn their grade-eight class trip into a visit to Ottawa and the opportunity to speak to the Canadian government. Shannen spoke to federal politicians about Aboriginal children’s need for opportunities to succeed. Her passion became a rallying point for Attawapiskat and Canada and, the following summer, Shannen was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Regrettably, Shannen will never see her dream fulfilled. She died in a car crash in 2010. Her family, friends, and supporters continue to fight and to honor her memory as they work for equality for children in communities everywhere.
A six-member jury of librarians from First Nation public libraries in Ontario, with coordination support from Southern Ontario Library Service, made the 2012-2013 First Nation Communities Read selection from 38 titles submitted by 18 publishers from across Canada. The publishers responded to the program’s call for children’s titles only. Jury members commended Shannen and the Dream for a School as an extremely impactful reading, sharing, and inspirational experience. They further cited its pertinence to Aboriginal people, truthfulness about ongoing atrocities in Aboriginal communities, celebration of youth activism, and appeal across generations.
Janet Wilson wrote Shannen and the Dream for a School with support from Shannen Koostachin’s family and members of the Attawapiskat First Nation. The book is a title in Second Story Press’ Kids’ Power series.
The First Nation Communities Read program, launched in 2003, is the Ontario First Nation public library community’s contribution to the popular community reading movement. Through its featured Aboriginal titles, First Nation Communities Read encourages family literacy and intergenerational storytelling, and promotes the publication, sharing, and understanding of Aboriginal voices and experiences.
The First Nation Communities Read program’s announcement of Shannen and the Dream for a School as its 2012-2013 selected title is timed to contribute to National Aboriginal History Month (June) and National Aboriginal Day (June 21) celebrations.
Throughout 2012-2013, First Nation Communities Read celebrations will include visits to First Nation communities and public libraries in Ontario, and conference presentations by Janet Wilson. Janet will begin her First Nation Communities Read visit program this week with:
- an afternoon “Meet the Author” event hosted by the Chippewas of the Thames Library and Resource Center at the Chippewas of the Thames Family Gathering and Pow Wow (RR #1, Muncey) on Thursday, June 21;
- two presentations hosted by the Six Nations Public Library at Emily C. General School (Six Nations of the Grand River) on Friday, June 22.
Public libraries in Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, and the Yukon will receive the 2012-2013 First Nation Communities Read poster through a provincial partners initiative. The poster promotes Shannen and the Dream for a School and other Aboriginal titles recommended for children and everyone. First Nation Communities Read encourages libraries of all types across Canada to buy Shannen and the Dream for a School and all the other poster-featured titles, and celebrate them through displays, readings, and programming.
First Nation Communities Read 2012-2013 acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) for this project.
Books previously selected by the First Nation Communities Read program are:
Fatty Legs: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak Fenton, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes, and published by Annick Press
Long Powwow Nights (English edition) / Nuits de pow-wow (French edition) by David Bouchard and Pam Aleekuk, illustrated by Leonard Paul, and published by Red Deer Press
Which Way Should I Go?, written by Sylvia Olsen with Ron Martin, illustrated by Kasia Charko, and published by Sono Nis Press
Ancient Thunder, written and illustrated by Leo Yerxa and published by Groundwood Books
No selection. Program temporarily suspended.
As Long as the Rivers Flow, written by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden, illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund, and published by Groundwood Books
SkySisters, written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Brian Deines, and published by Kids Can Press
Solomon’s Tree, inspired by Tsimpshian master carver Victor Reece, written by Andrea Spalding, illustrated by Janet Wilson and published by Orca Book Publishers
Dragonfly Kites, written by Tomson Highway, illustrated by Brian Deines, and published by HarperCollins Canada
Later this year, First Nation Communities Read will issue a submissions call for its 2013-2014 program. The focus for 2013-2014 will be Aboriginal titles for adults and young adults.
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For more information about the First Nation Communities Read program, contact:
Patty Lawlor, First Nations Consultant
Southern Ontario Library Service
Tel: 416-961-1669, Ext. 5108
For more information about Shannen and the Dream for a School and Janet Wilson, contact:
Emma Rodgers, Marketing & Promotions Manager
Second Story Press