National Literacy Supports
Rebecca Still, Community Learning Network
In my last blog post, Advocating Literacy, I wrote about work at the international level and a call to action at the local level. I want to share with you what is happening at the national level.
There are two main national groups in Canada: ABC Life Literacy Canada and United for Literacy. Both of these organizations have a long history of supporting adults in gaining stronger literacy skills.
ABC Life Literacy Canada
ABC Life Literacy Canada supports Canadian literacy practitioners by developing and supporting the use of literacy materials and resources for adult learners. You may be aware of some of their materials such as Up Skills for Work, Money Matters and Internet Matters. To see all of their resources, refer to ABC Life Literacy Resources.
You may not know that ABC Life Literacy Canada also aims to strengthen organizations that promote adult learning. They have developed infographics and information related to literacy such as What is Life Literacy? and Digital Literacy and Family Literacy to name a few. If you are looking for statistics to support your key messages to your community, you can download their statistics information or an infographic (look under the "Literacy" tab for a complete list).
Brigid Hayes, a former senior policy advisor and current consultant for learning, literacy and work, cautions that when using statistics to share them in the context of a relatable story. Stories have more impact than statistics alone. It’s always good to remember that statistics represent actual people.
ABC Life Literacy Canada is involved in advocating for the adult foundational sector and brings together literacy practitioners in the adult literacy community across Canada.
I’m currently a member of the Programs and Research Committee which hosts an annual forum for researchers and literacy practitioners from across the country to discuss a hot topic in the field of literacy. Typically, the forum is in June. This year the topic was "Digital Equity and Digital Justice".
Each year ABC Life Literacy Canada sends out a call for the Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award. This award is open to all organizations offering adult literacy programs. You can learn about this year’s winners at the ABC Life Literacy website as well as register to attend the award presentation, followed by a moderated discussion, on October 5, 2023.
United for Literacy
United for Literacy, formerly called Frontier College, has a long history of literacy in Canada. Established in 1899 as the Canadian Reading Camp Movement, the organization took literacy to men working in remote mining and lumber camps. Allen Quigley notes that they are the longest standing literacy institution in Canada (Source: Building Literacy: A Learner-Centred Guide for Teachers, Tutors and Practitioners of Adult Literacy).
United for Literacy offers free literacy and numeracy programs across Canada for children, teens, adults, seniors and families. Some of these programs are available online. You can go here to see a list of programs in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Lethbridge.
Personal stories are important to United for Literacy, and they have collected a wide range of stories that show the impact of literacy on people and in communities. Sharing stories is a great way to enhance key messages directed to your community. Have a look at United for Literacy Inspirational stories. They also have an extensive resource library you might want to check out.
About once a year, United for Literacy hosts a national forum on a relevant topic. I wrote about this year’s forum Literacy and AI under Literacy in Action in the CALP Connections September 2023 edition.
Both ABC Life Literacy Canada and United for Literacy are great resources to support your work in literacy.
CLN Literacy Specialist
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