A few organizations have come together to give thousands of books to kids in remote northern communities in Manitoba.
Strini Reddy is a former educator who is now helping children in northern communities get books. He is a member of the Honouring Indigenous People's (HIP) committee with the Rotary Club of Winnipeg.
"Our committee and our club have been interested in working with the remote first nations communities up north in northern Manitoba to support education and other initiatives in whatever way we can. One of the most common requests we get is for books," says Reddy.
The communities that they send books to are only accessible by ice roads or planes. Shipping costs for books travelling by air is very expensive, so the best time to get books to these communities is by the ice roads in the winter.
"We work with an organization here in Winnipeg called Share the Magic book program which is run by one very committed person, Christine Melnik, who used to be a member of provincial government before she retired. She's a librarian by trade. She's very meticulous to make sure every book is examined for condition and content."
Books are being distributed to children to take home, as well as to fill school libraries. This winter kids can take up to five books for themselves.
"Having Share the Magic here in Winnipeg has been such a blessing to us. Otherwise, it'd be very difficult for us to be able to ship as many books as we possibly can."
Reddy's organization, Share the Magic, and The Northwest Company trucks work together to get these books to children in remote communities.
"This time around books are on the way to Red Sucker Lake, Wasagaming, Lac Brochet, and God's River."
Why Books Are Important
"I'm a retired educator and have a lot of experience up in northern communities in Manitoba. I've seen the discrepancies in services and goods between communities in the southern part of the province and the isolated communities," says Reddy. "Books shouldn't be something that is out of people's reach."
HIP has partnered with Rotary clubs across Canada and encouraged them to become part of a reconciliation movement with Indigenous communities.
"We were one of the first clubs to form an HIP committee. We have the advantage of the fact that I personally, and others, have been working with people up north for many years. Education is one of the biggest things. Books have become a central part of it."
Reddy understands the importance of books not only as a former educator but also from his childhood experience.
"Today we talk about the internet and easy access to reading materials, but the fact remains many of the communities we are talking about don't even have the internet. I grew up in a family that had very limited resources so every time we had a book, it was a great treasure for us."
Reddy has seen the impact books can have on young minds as an educator, but also from reading every night to his children, and then grandchildren.
"There's a magic about having a book in your hands and being able to see the printed world and create this whole wonderful world of imagination."
The program has donated more than 640,000 books worth more than $4.2 million.