THE NATIONAL LITERACY SECRETARIAT:
One of the most important and pressing questions we were asked by Aboriginal literacy practitioners and coordinators in the course of our work was, "Who funds literacy work?" As most practitioners know from their own experience, finding the resources to put instructors or tutors in a classroom is difficult enough. But many also stated that there are other related activities that would help Aboriginal literacy programs reach greater numbers of Aboriginal learners or work more successfully with those currently enrolled.
Many practitioners would like to develop culturally-relevant curriculum appropriate to an Aboriginal clientele, increase community awareness of the importance of literacy for First Nations people, do outreach work or conduct a needs assessment in Aboriginal communities, but are unable to find the resources to carry out these important support activities. For these reasons, we have included information here on other Aboriginal organizations which have received funding from the National Literacy Secretariat of the federal department of Human Resources Development Canada to help them develop and promote their literacy programs.
Since its establishment in 1987, the National Literacy Secretariat (NLS) has been working with its partners to promote literacy in Canada. It supports programs which help to make Canadas social, economic and political life more accessible to people with weak literacy skills. As well as working with provincial and territorial governments, NLS works in partnership with a variety of non-governmental and voluntary organizations, both literacy and non-literacy groups and business and labour organizations. Although it does not fund the provision of direct, ongoing literacy services (operating costs), the NLS has funded a wide range of related activities and projects which are directed at meeting regional or local needs. NLS has funded over 2700 projects, which generally fall into one or more of the following areas:
Many Aboriginal literacy programs have benefited from NLS support in the past and continue to do so. Here, we have provided only a few examples of projects funded between 1990 and 1998, to provide an idea of the wide range of projects and activities which the NLS has partnered with Aboriginal community groups and organizations across the country. We have used NLS own categorization of its areas of support, but in reality, you will see that our examples often combine elements of research, training, coordination, curriculum development, outreach and direct service delivery and do not fall neatly into any one category.