Whole family learning

The Yukon Literacy Coalition has teamed up with Kwanlin Dun to get families reading. “It’s the beginning of something new,” said Art Stephenson. For the last 10 years, Kwanlin Dun’s Dusk’a Family Learning Centre has hosted a preschool program, funded by Health Canada.

The Yukon Literacy Coalition has teamed up with Kwanlin Dun to get families reading.

“It’s the beginning of something new,” said Art Stephenson.

For the last 10 years, Kwanlin Dun’s Dusk’a Family Learning Centre has hosted a preschool program, funded by Health Canada.

But last fall, the First Nation began renovations to turn it into a more inclusive family centre. It added more space for families to read and learn together and has been developing a lending library which will be an educational and cultural resource for the whole community.

The new partnership with the Family Literacy Centre is icing on the cake.

While geared toward preschoolers, the new program focuses on literacy as a family endeavour.

“Learning is something we do when we are with other people,” said Family Literacy Centre director Christine Spinder. “Parents are their kids’ first and best teachers.”

The new programming coaches parents on how to support and develop their children’s literacy. It provides curriculum, tools and activities – from the best techniques when reading to your child, to lists of outdoor activities that help kids learn.

It will also work to instil confidence in parents’ own literacy, said Spinder.

By working hand-in-hand with Kwanlin Dun, the program has specific Yukon First Nation characteristics, Spinder added, noting the role nature plays within the curriculum and humans’ connection to it.

“There’s a lot of uniqueness to Kwanlin Dun,” said Stephenson. “It’s a community within a community; we have values and approaches to family and our needs that are characteristically different than the wider community.”

Reading may not currently be a big part of many Kwanlin Dun homes, plus the extended family concept can be much different when compared to many nonaboriginal homes, he said.

“Literacy is a way to capture information,” said Stephenson. “What (Kwanlin Dun’s) young people need to capture is (information) about their identity, ancestry, history and how they are glued into their extended family and culture.”

Both directors note that this type of family-focused programming is infectious. Its main priority may be preschool-aged children but after working with parents the other siblings, aunts, uncles and even grandparents tend to get involved.

“It embeds itself in the family, then spreads out,” said Stephenson.

“It’s a great beginning,” he said again. “It will progress and bring the community together.”

The learning centre listens to families in the community, said Stephenson. It tries to understand their issues and what they need and then tries to meet those needs within the centre.

Having community-made literacy programming for the community is in high demand, said Spinder.

About 70 people came out for bison stew and bannock on Thursday to find out about the new program, she said.

At the dinner, older children came forward.

They too want help with their literacy skills.

The Family Literacy Centre is still considered a pilot project but it does have long-term goals, said Spinder. Bringing programs like this to all communities across the Yukon is one of them, she said.

When the centre promoted a territory-wide workshop on this family-oriented program a few weeks ago, there was a waitlist within four days, said Spinder.

“There’s a huge interest out there and it seems to be that a lot of people want to create learning within their community and they want to do it themselves,” she said.  “This program is based on people creating it themselves.”

“It will evolve over time, of course,” said Stephenson, about both the program and the Dusk’a learning centre. “But First Nation communities uphold a real concept of gathering around things and this has the ability to gather people.”

All Kwanlin Dun families with preschool-aged children are encouraged to register in the program. They can do so at the Family Literacy Centre on the second floor of the Canada Games Centre, or at the Dusk’a Family Learning Centre, located beside the health building on McIntyre Drive.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at roxannes@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read