November 2022 – 10 Mini-Libraries for Pelican Falls First Nation High School

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.

Pelican Falls First Nation High School (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.

Books from the teachers wishlists.

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”.  

Rochelle Bragg organizing the books ordered from Goodminds Indigenous Books.

“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!”

Regan, a student at PFFNHS enjoying one of the books Mrs. King ordered. 

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!

Sue Griggs
Executive Coach, Educator

Sue has had an eclectic career as an educator with children and adults from ages four to eighty. Much of her energy is now focused on executive coaching and advising non profits such as SchoolBOX. Sue works to ensure that both the Canadian and Nicaraguan communities continue to grow and to develop with mutual respect and caring.

Harvey Griggs
Engineer, Entrepreneur

Harvey Griggs has enjoyed a remarkable career as an engineer and entrepreneur. In 2008 Harvey came to Nicaragua to assist with the build of SchoolBOX’s third school. He was deeply impressed with the kindness, the generosity, the spirit and the commitment to education demonstrated by the Nicaraguans. He has been an energetic supporter of SchoolBOX ever since.

Jim David
Founder, Trumpet Capital Corp.

Jim has been a vital supporter of SchoolBOX since the beginning. Jim travelled to Nicaragua in early 2008 to help construct one of our first schools and has been actively involved ever since. Jim is a commercial mortgage advisor and founder of Trumpet Capital Corp in Calgary, Alberta. He is passionate about yoga, and helping children in Nicaragua.

Tom Affleck
SchoolBOX Founder

Tom Affleck has lived and worked in Guatemala, Peru and Nicaragua. It was an unexpected encounter in Nicaragua, however, that sparked the SchoolBOX dream. In 2006 he gave two girls notebooks and pencils. One of the girls’ father said to her “now that you have a notebook and pencil you can go to school this year”. Tom saw his work building SchoolBOX as an opportunity to live out his faith and to break the bonds of poverty for thousands of children.

Jennette Affleck
Retired Teacher, co-founder of SchoolBOX

Jennette has been involved with early childhood education for her entire professional career. Jennette has taught in Boston, Toronto, the Ottawa Valley, and Monteverde, Costa Rica. Jennette was SchoolBOX’s longest serving Board member, has participated in 7+ school builds in Nicaragua, and was an integral part of our organization since its infancy.

Dina Bell-Laroche
Executive Coach, Sport Law & Strategy Group

Dina has been involved with SchoolBOX since 2012. In 2013, she led a team of youth to Nicaragua to participate in a school build and returned to Canada committed to making a difference. Dina’s experience in facilitation and strategic communications has been an asset to SchoolBOX. Dina believes that education really opens up opportunities for students in Nicaragua and strives to use her skills to create change.

Shannon O’Rourke

Shannon is passionate about unlocking human potential through meaningful education experiences and global community connections. Professionally, she is a marketing executive with 25 years of cross-industry experience in accelerating positive impact, innovation, and growth through the teams and organizations she serves. Shannon joined the board in 2023. She is honored to work with the SchoolBOX team to help make education possible and to further empower children, youth, families, and communities to live their best lives.

Stephanie Potter
Master Integral Coach, PhD

A longtime supporter of SchoolBOX activities, Stephanie, her husband, and youngest daughter joined a trip to Nicaragua in 2018 where they fell in love with the country and the communities they visited. After seeing the impact of SchoolBOX’s work first-hand, Stephanie was inspired to join the Board and did so in February 2020. Stephanie is humbled by the opportunity to lend her knowledge and skills to help make education – and therefore community and social change – possible through the work of SchoolBOX.

Jim Sale
Owner,‌ ‌REEF‌ ‌Consulting‌ ‌Services‌

Jim‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌management‌ ‌consultant‌ ‌who‌ ‌helps‌ ‌multi-national‌ ‌organizations‌ ‌optimize‌ ‌commercial‌ ‌effectiveness.‌ ‌He‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌long-time‌ ‌supporter‌ ‌of‌ ‌SchoolBOX‌ ‌and‌ ‌had‌ ‌the‌ ‌opportunity‌ ‌to‌ ‌travel‌ ‌to ‌Nicaragua‌ ‌in‌ ‌2016‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌build‌ ‌the‌ ‌Gilberto‌ ‌Siles‌ ‌school.‌ ‌Impressed‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌pragmatic‌ ‌approach‌ ‌SchoolBOX‌ ‌takes‌ ‌to‌ ‌deliver‌ ‌highly‌ ‌impactful‌ ‌and‌ ‌sustainable‌ ‌solutions,‌ ‌he‌ ‌joined‌ ‌the‌ ‌Board‌ ‌of‌ ‌Directors‌ ‌in‌ ‌2021‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌goal‌ ‌of‌ ‌applying‌ ‌his‌ ‌energy‌ ‌and‌ ‌experience‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌SchoolBOX‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌education‌ ‌possible.‌

Natalie Gunn, Chair
Co-Owner, Oxford Learning Centre Kanata

Natalie was born with a passion for education, helping people and travel. Looking for a new volunteer project, she joined the Equator Coffee Roasters team and visited Nicaragua for a classroom build in November 2016 and proudly joined the Board of Directors in late 2017. Natalie is co-owner of the Oxford Learning Centre Kanata and committed to supporting children to reach their full potential.

Margie Graff
Retired Teacher

After 32 years of teaching with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Margie retired and began volunteering with SchoolBOX’s Treaty 3 library partnerships. She was honoured to be entrusted with the ordering of Indigenous texts and resources for communities and schools, as well as travelling to two communities to lend a hand in setting up their library spaces. In 2022, Margie joined the board and continues to build on these wonderful experiences to ensure that all learners have the resources and opportunities to realize their dreams.

Jo Danaher
Financial Manager

Jo Danaher is our cheerful financial wizard. She keeps all of our SchoolBOX finances in order, and makes sure that we are meeting the highest standards for a charitable organization. Jo enjoys seeing the amazing power that the SchoolBOX community of volunteers and donors has to impact the education of so many children.

Rochelle Bragg
Social Media and Communications Manager

Rochelle is mixed Anishi but has much of her far jowin (Qj Cree) and Swiss-German, currently living in Treaty 19, ly living in Treaty 9, specifically the isolated community of Muskrat Dam First Nation. Rochelle is committed to speaking out on the Indigenous realities in  Canada and doing her part to help this next generation of Indigenous youth pursue their educational and personal goals.