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Celebration of Coyote Reads after-school literacy program partnership at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, the Okanagan College Salmon Arm campus will celebrate the Coyote Reads after-school literacy program for Aboriginal elementary and middle-school students with a treasure hunt, presentations, and bannock and tea.

Generously funded by the Vancouver Foundation, the literacy program partners four North Okanagan schools, School District #83, Okanagan College and the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS) to provide a culturally relevant program that boosts students’ self-confidence and reading skills.

“We received $53,500 from the Vancouver Foundation to run Coyote Reads this year,” said Irene LaBoucane, School District #83 Principal for Aboriginal Education North Okanagan. “The program interweaves cultural teachings, authentic Aboriginal reading materials, literacy strategies, and a fun and supportive atmosphere to improve participants’ reading skills.”

“We have so much to celebrate. We are seeing tangible positive outcomes for the students. As well, there have been unexpected benefits. The kids are making friends, developing a sense of love and belonging and we can see them really looking forward to their twice-weekly after-school sessions, and especially the monthly trips to the College.”

The program has two levels: Coyote Café for elementary students and Coyote Club for middle school learners. LaBoucane says, “Because the program is in its third year, some of the older students who aged out are able to continue their participation as mentors to children entering the program.”

Tracy Riley, Okanagan College’s fundamental literacy instructor said, “The College is an enthusiastic partner and offers the benefit of access to the Dr. Andrea Deakin collection of thousands of works of children’s literature housed here in our campus library.”

“We are situated within walking distance to a middle school and several elementary schools. The students and their parents become very comfortable visiting. We’re very much hoping some day they return to us as College students to continue along their educational pathway.”

The Coyote Reads program runs twice-weekly after school. Once a month, students go to the College for a snack, library visit, story time and a reading session where they can choose to read to themselves or to another student.

The Coyote Reads celebration begins at 2:30 p.m. with a treasure hunt for the participating students. The formal program starts at 3 p.m. Elder Virginia Tomma Woolridge from the Little Shuswap Lake Band will give the blessing.