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NWT Literacy Week a page by page success

Sarah Holland
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 08/99) - Yellowknife is finishing a week of literacy awareness and active community participation.

Tomorrow is the last day of NWT Literacy Week, and from the looks of it so far, it has been a raging success.

Last Saturday, numerous activities took place for adults and children alike. Local authors Jamie Bastedo, Diane Brookes and Fran Hurcomb and Kids Lit performers Paul Punyi and Maureen Rooney spent an afternoon reading and storytelling at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

This was followed by a hotdog barbecue supplied and organized by the Yellowknife Co-op and the Yellowknife Rotary Club.

"Everyone did a wonderful job and we had a capacity crowd," said Kate Sills, executive director of the NWT Literacy Council. "Last year we had 30 people at this event, this year we had almost 250. It was astounding."

Tuesday was the Yellowknife Public Library's annual Bookish Breakfast at the Yellowknife Inn. Guests included Nellie McClung, famous Canadian suffragist, politician and author, as well as Barbara Greenwood, who writes historical fiction for children.

Wednesday was the NWT Literacy Council's Read for 15 Challenge. Both communities and individuals were challenged to read for 15 minutes and then submit their totals to the council to be tabulated into a grand total for the territory.

"We really rely on people to send their minutes in," said Sills. "Before division, we had almost 20,000 people participate.

"But now we're starting from scratch because of the new territory."

Wednesday also had Barbara Greenwood doing a reading for adults at the library.

A special event was also launched this week, the NWT Writing Contest which was kicked off on Monday.

Everyone is invited to send in submissions, be it poetry or a story. A group of volunteer judges will pick the top entries.

There are a number of age categories, and the selected submissions get a special treat. The composer of the best story receives the Norman J. MacPherson award (a plaque) and $500 cash.

A selection of the best entries are published in a piece called Northern Writes, which is put together jointly by the NWT and Nunavut.

The entire week was designed to promote the importance of reading as both a hobby and an educational tool.

"It was very successful," says Sills. "All of the authors and performers did a wonderful job, and the families had a lot of fun."