An exciting new project is in the works that offers the hope of new beginnings for the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The Young Professionals of Nanaimo (YPN) and Herold Engineering are teaming up to help build a new library in the traditional Snuneymuxw territory.
Snuneymuxw Councilor Emmy Manson feels that this project will open the door to many new opportunities, and looks forward to creating a learning centre that provides access to teachings centred on education, language, technology and culture.
“The most important thing for us is access,” said Manson. “Library programs often focus on children, but adult literacy is a large struggle in our community due to residential schools and colonization. We want to create a learning space that is not just about academia, but that also reflects our culture. It is important to implement our heritage early on, and provide a space that our children and community can identify with,” she said.
The undertaking was inspired by the Write to Read Project, an initiative originally started by former Lieutenant Governor of B.C, the Honourable Steven L. Point. The Write to Read Project helps to create ongoing and lasting relationships between people living in urban environments such as towns and cities, and the First Nations people of British Columbia who live in rural, remote or suburban communities that may not be well served by educational and employment opportunities. Specifically, the goal is to assist with efforts to improve literacy in aboriginal communities across British Columbia.
The project has already begun to take shape, with Britco Structures Inc. donating two trailers to form the base of the library. Mike Herold has also agreed to donate his engineering services to the project, and the YPN will be spearheading the fundraising initiative, with an aim of raising $100,000.
Herold is passionate about First Nations issues and is a long-time advocate of this program, having already participated in a number of these projects across the province. The president of Herold Engineering said he is excited to drive this initiative forward in his hometown of Nanaimo.
“We need to change the system, and it starts with education,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whose fault it is or how we got here – all of us need to step up and help the fight.”
The Young Professionals of Nanaimo (YPN) were originally introduced to this project by Herold, and immediately saw the value of getting involved. “We see this partnership as something that can benefit our entire community,” said YPN president, Daniel Martinez.