Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Napi's Playground School Library revitalized

Fu Hui Educational Foundation President Jusdy San with Napi's Playground students

T. Lucas/C. Davis - Napi's Playground School at Piikani Nation hosted a reopening ceremony for their extensively renovated library on November 15. Guests in attendance included representatives of the Fu Hui Educational Foundation (FHEF) and the Martin Family Initiative (MFI). Both organizations provided financial support to the school to refit the library. The guests were toured through Napi Playground (Piikani Nation's elementary school) and visited with students in their classrooms before the presentation.

Fu Hui Educational Foundation with Napi's Playground students

A formal program was held in the gymnasium. Herman Many Guns acted as MC. There was a Traditional Blackfoot blessing and an explanation of the culture and area of the Blackfoot people. Jaron Weasel Bear said "We are a people who are proud to share. We are proud of our traditions." Part of sharing those traditions was the Napi Playground Elementary School Dancers putting on a performance in the traditional Fancy Shawl Dancer, Chicken Dancer and Jingle Dancer outfits accompanied by the North Stone Drum Group. Brian Yellow Horn was in traditional regalia as part of the ceremony as well.  All of the FHEF representatives joined in the final dance.

New Napi's Playground Library
Principal Crystal Good Rider said the library was part of her vision for the school, and thanked all involved. She explained there are not a lot of libraries on first nation reserves. "We deserve to have our own library for families". 

Piikani Elder Brian Yellow Horn and Napi's Playground Principal Crystal Good Rider
Herman Many Guns explained how the tradition of the Blackfoot people was rich in oral story telling, but cautioned the students, "Today, we have to learn to read." 

Three students came to the front and told what having the library meant to them, personally. 

Martin Family Initiative (MFI) representative Carlana Linderman explained the organization's intent to support students to help them reach their full potential. Federal funding eligibility is across the country. Originally there were two First Nation schools in a pilot project. Napi's Playground is the third school. MFI's Julia O'Sullivan later explained the organization's ongoing efforts. "We have a goal to be in 20 schools, by the year 2020." Napi's Playground is the first of six schools which MFI is supporting. Each school will work with MFI for six years. "We work with schools who have applied to work with us to improve the children's reading and writing within their school."

Napi's Playground tour hosts Adrian Little Mustache, Lalina Crow, and  Cindal Little Plume

Judy San of Fu Hui Education presented a commemorative plaque to the school. San said the foundation is aiming at helping build 6 schools across Canada in the upcoming year. San also presented the library with a number of unique bookmarks made of real maple leaves, laminated, with inspirational messages, to be given to the students.

Fu Hui Educational Foundation 
From Judy San's speech at the assembly:

"Fu Hui is a charity organization based in Toronto Ontario and Hong Kong. In the past 13 years, we have helped the youth and children living in poor and remote regions of China gain access to comprehensive and quality education. Most of these students are from a minority group called Yi. So far Fu Hui has assisted over 16,000 students. This year in more than 100 regions in China, we assisted 5,000 students, including preschools, primarily schools, high schools, university scholarships and vocational training. We are proud to have worked closely with local government and the community in China while honouring local cultural values."

"One of our initiatives is to establish classroom libraries. We have put in over 150 classroom libraries. Students from the senior classes look after setting up the catalogues, stocking the books, and the borrowing logistics . The books have helped to quench the students’ thirst of knowledge. The students write book reports and even design their own book marks."

"As we are Chinese Canadians, We are proud to call Canada home, and we are eager to give back to the country that has been very good to us for so many years. Therefore, we are excited that we are partnering with the Martin Family Initiatives to do something for Canada. That is the reason why we are donating to your school’s library."

A ribbon cutting at the library entrance followed, and everyone was invited to see the newly refurbished facilities. Librarian Lydia Morning Bull explained what had been done with the funding including a purge of outdated or damaged books, new paint, better layout with attention to sight lines and comfort for individual and group activities. New shelving held a wide assortment of new books, and there was a separate room which held a number of computers, available for student access.

After the tour of the library, elders, and guests were invited to an informal meet and greet with traditional Blackfoot food including frybread and berry soup.

Napi's Playground Librarian Lydia Morning Bull
Librarian Lydia Morning Bull's speech after the ribbon cutting ceremony:

"As part of the Model School Literacy Project sponsored by the Martin Family Initiative an evaluation of the Napi’s Playground Elementary School and Piikani Nation Secondary School Library was begun in November of 2016. The Model Schools Literacy Project’s Library Consultants using photographs of the site along with discussions with onsite personnel undertook a preliminary assessment.

The School Staff, the Students and the Community all demonstrated a renewed interest in making their library an integral part of the school. Based on these factors as well as the school’s commitment to provide personnel to oversee the maintenance of the collections and to encourage multiple uses of the facility, it was decided that the Napi’s Playground Elementary School and Piikani Nation Secondary School Library would be an excellent choice for support through the Model School Library Project.

The Library renewal started with a thorough weeding of the existing collections followed by a gap analysis of the remaining materials based on school curriculum and student interests. At the same time a redesign of the physical space occurred to deal with sightline, shelf height and trip hazard issues within the space.

The initial weeding of the collection and the forming of lists of materials that are current, accurate, and appealing to the school’s clientele began in December of 2016. Suggested changes to the facilities took place over the Christmas holiday and on into January as weeding continued.

In late January purchases of new library materials began and these materials were sent for processing. During this time the school ordered new shelving components to better display the collection.

The weeding of the collection of about 2000 books and implementation of borrowing began in early February while waiting the arrival of the newly purchased materials. During the March break the final physical changes to the facility were completed and one wall was repainted.

During June of this year the new books arrived on site and were organized and set up for circulation to begin this fall. A total of 3422 new books were purchased.

During the last week of June the collections housed along the hall wall side of the library were removed so those walls could be painted over the summer break. The books were re- shelved after the painting was completed and the library was ready for reopening.

Thank you to all the Martin Family Initiative team plus staff and students of the revitalizing of the library."

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