Skip to content

Innovations for Learning Canada release Indigenous E-Storybook series for children

A new partnership will focus on producing and releasing Indigenous E-Storybook Series for children in high-need communities.
2020 Online Learning
Online learning

TORONTO — Innovations for Learning and Symcor announced a partnership which will focus on producing and releasing Indigenous E-Storybook Series for children in high-need communities.

Symcor is a Canadian organization that enables secure data exchanges, and Innovations for Learning Canada (IFL), is a registered charity focused on improving early literacy for at-risk students.

Both organizations have come together to launch the first in a series of children’s e-books meant to support Indigenous language revitalization and advance Indigenous priorities, perspectives and world views.

Partnering with Indigenous communities, the children's e-books are written and illustrated by Indigenous artists and incorporate words and phrases in the first languages of the communities, along with storylines that celebrate the communities' values and culture. To bring this storybook to life, audio clips of elders and knowledge keepers pronouncing key words in Anishinaabemowin are embedded within the e-book.

Research has shown that every year, 100,000 children in Canada complete Grade 3 without the ability to read proficiently, making them 4X less likely to graduate from high school. By the time they reach the age of 12, there is a five-year gap in the reading levels of these students and others in their grade.

"Guided by our North Star, 'Connecting for Common Good', Symcor is proud to partner with Innovations for Learning. We are committed to help close the early-grade literacy gap in high-need communities across the country," says Ana Brian, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Symcor. "Never has this been more important than in 2022, when we see the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has led to significant disruption in education and schooling."

The first in the series of e-books sponsored by Symcor, Ice Fishing with Nimkii, is available on IFL's online literacy platform: TutorMate. The series can be accessed by educators and students (classroom and remote), and also through virtual tutoring volunteers from Symcor and other organizations

As well, families and students can access a library of stories and word games through the TutorMate smartphone app. Starting in 2023, students and families around the world will be able to access the e-book as part of a global story library available online at no cost.

Ice Fishing with Nimkii showcases Wiikwemkoong Board of Education land-based Learning Coach Nimkii Lavell, who teaches children traditional Anishinaabek outdoor activities ranging from maple syrup production to canoe building.

 Ice Fishing with Nimkii was inspired by a gillnetting excursion that Jacob Pitawanakwat, IFL's Program Manager and Early Literacy Interventionist at Wiikwemkoong Junior School, attended with Nimkii and local students. Jacob's original photographs of the trip were used as references for the book's illustrations. 

"As I showed the early sketches to teachers and students, the first thing they did was burst out laughing because the illustrations are the spitting image of Nimkii, who everyone knows and loves. Now these students get to see something they've experienced first-hand, captured in storybook form at school, and they really treasure that," says Jacob.

Upcoming stories sponsored by Symcor will explore additional themes identified by Indigenous communities and incorporate different local languages and dialects, supporting language revitalization efforts and providing students with storybooks that reflect their culture and community.

"Symcor has been with us in Canada since Day 1. Its employees have been tremendously effective ambassadors of our program, inspiring other corporations to join our effort. Symcor's sponsorship has enabled crucial 1:1 literacy support for hundreds of high-need children as we've expanded our programming over the last three years. We are delighted to have Symcor as the first organization to sponsor IFL's original storybook series and to pioneer this unique partnership model," says Fabrice Grover, Executive Director, Innovations for Learning Canada.

Three other storybooks in the series sponsored by Symcor are slated to be released this school year, with the next one coming out in the spring. 





push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks