November 2022 – 10 Mini-Libraries for Pelican Falls First Nation High School – SchoolBOX
Pelican Falls First Nation high school sits nestled on the edge of a beautiful lake in the heart of the woods in Treaty 3, about 20 minutes outside of the nearest town, Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
The school operates as a private high school for First Nations students from the 24 communities within the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The students, grade 9 – 12, live on the school’s campus year round, staying in boarding homes with the rest of their classmates. The school works hard to make the students comfortable, but there are challenges that come with being a young adult, away from the comforts of home for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, this is the reality for the students at PFFNHS.
The school is beautifully decorated with traditional art and the hallways are lined with photos of previous years graduates, serving as inspiration to the students as they recognize family or members from their community in the frames. The school offers unique and culturally relevant educational services with Native language as a subject course, promoting a sense of pride in their heritage.
Beautiful artwork that hangs in the hallways of the school.
SchoolBOX wanted to partner with the education staff of PFFNHS through promoting literacy. Having reached out to Principal Darrin Head and Vice Principal Nathan Hunter, it was decided that instead of a full library instalment, SchoolBOX would support the school and its staff with mini-libraries in each classroom.
The collaboration with PFFNHS required the teachers at the school to submit a list of books to SchoolBOX, called their “wishlist”, of books that they wanted in their classroom for their students. The SchoolBOX team then ordered the books and visited the school to install them in each classroom.
Left/Top: Terri Meekis setting up shelves to be installed in the classrooms.
Right/Bottom: Bernice Major organizing the wishlists for each classroom.
Rochelle Bragg, SchoolBOX social media and communication manager, grew up in Sioux Lookout, and has had family members attend PFFNHS. Reflecting on the experience of the students she says, ”It’s hard to fully understand the challenges of being hundreds of miles away from home as a young person, and yet, that’s the reality for the students at Pelican”.
“The hope of this project was to simply support the teachers with books with the end goal of engaging the students in literacy,” says Rochelle. “There are so many beautiful amazing books by Indigenous authors and giving these students access to them, is so important.”
Teacher’s wishlists set up in their classrooms.
Kristen King is a teacher at PFFNHS and participated in this project with SchoolBOX by filling out a wishlist of her own. Rochelle remembers Mrs.King, who taught her back in high school and says, “she was one of my favourite teachers. I loved English class, and she made my experience of writing essays really enjoyable. It was always really evident to me that she cared about her students and their success.”
King, who has been a teacher for many years, says of her experience with SchoolBOX, “This was one of the best experiences in my whole career and I’ve taught since ’91. It was like the ultimate Christmas gift for a teacher. Several books have been read and recommended by my students already!”
SchoolBOX was thrilled to partner with Pelican Falls First Nation High School. Supporting teachers who invest in First Nation youth is at the very heart of what we do at SchoolBOX. Thank you, Miigwech, to Principal Darrin Head and VP Nathan Hunter, for partnering with us to make education possible for all youth!