Our Work

Creating Learning Centers

We partner with local leaders and Chief & Council to support the educational needs of each community. In most cases this involves funding the construction and installation of learning centres which can include a new library and resource spaces, complete with furniture, computers, and Indigenous books; empowering kids K-12 in their educational journeys.

Watch this short video below about how our first Library & Learning Centre in Treaty 3 came to life!

Waubaskang First Nation Learning Centre, 2019

In 2019, Wabauskang First Nation started construction of a new classroom in addition to a library. Construction was completed at the end of 2020. Although they had a new classroom, they had no furniture or technology, so Terri Meekis reached out to SchoolBOX to help equip the new learning space. In 2021, we installed new desks, chairs, computers, office and classroom furniture and hired a local artist to design a mural which was all very timely with the school lockdowns. Wabauskang now has a fully equipped classroom attached to the library!
  • A new library including 500+ Indigenous books, 5 book shelves, 2 iPads, 1 e-reader, a kids reading area, and an adult reading corner was installed in the Wabauskang Youth Centre and completed in October 2017.
  • Thank you to USGE, Laidlaw Foundation, and the many individuals donors who helped to fund this pilot project!
  • The building is now used as a learning center. It is registered with Ontario Library Services- North for ongoing funding and training. Distance education teachers from the 7 Generations Institute use the space to help kids complete their high school diplomas and after school programs like Right to Play run for elementary kids in the space.

Niisaachewan Anishnaabe Nation Youth Library, 2019

Bernice Major, councillor for Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation, reached out to SchoolBOX after hearing about the transformation in Wabauskang. She asked if SchoolBOX could help to create a youth library in their distance learning room above the fire hall.

SchoolBOX paid to refurbish the youth learning centre with new floors, mural, furniture, technology and Indigenous literature.

The space is a small distance learning school for youth working to complete their high school diplomas. They now have access to literature written in Treaty 3 to inspire them!

Children's Agindaasoowigamig Library, 2020

Together we then helped to repurpose an unused bay of the fire hall into a children’s library. The space was renovated using local contractors and equipped with over a thousand beautiful books, the majority written by First Nations authors. The library is now registered with Ontario Library Service – North as the most recent First Nations library in Ontario and accesible to all kids K-12 and their families. 

We are continuing to support with the purchase of a cataloging system and facilitating an additional donation of new Indigenous books donated to their collection through a First Nations publisher called Goodminds in 2021.

Gaagakiizhik & Bimose School Library & Learning Centre, 2022

The Gaagagekiizhik and Bimose School partnered with SchoolBOX to bring a Learning Centre and Library for students K-12. This was the first library the school had access to for its students, up until this point, there were only a few books in each classroom, and a small selection provided by the Language and Culture Resources. Due to limited space in the school building, the school and SchoolBOX collabo

rated to bring a 60 foot complex where the new library would take home. Inside the library, we installed a children’s library section, a youth learning centre where they could complete homework and assignments using appropriate technology like laptops and printers, and office spaces for the Language and Culture Resources. This was a dream come true for the school and it’s students. 

As one student entered the space for the first time, she uttered, “Is this for us?” to which we could proudly and excitedly reply, “YES!” Thank you to everyone who made this project possible. This was our largest project to date, and took many hours of hard work, but with the support of our team, volunteers, hired hands, and supporters, we did it!

10 Mini-Libraries for Pelican Falls First Nations High School, 2022

Pelican Falls First Nation high 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.

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. The hope of this project was to simply support the teachers with books with the end goal of engaging the students in literacy.

Kristen King is a teacher at PFFNHS and participated in this project with SchoolBOX by filling out a wishlist of her own. 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.

Library Project at Migisi Sahgaigan School, 2023

SchoolBOX partnered with the Migisi Sahgaigan school in Eagle Lake First Nation to install mini libraries in the classrooms as well as update a section of their beautiful main library. Principal and Education Director Drew Kivell shared, “We are very excited to have resources that students can access easily in their classrooms. The culturally relevant materials will support teachers in their daily instruction too. We have been in need of fresh reading materials and this program is helping to bridge this gap.”

Margie Graff, SchoolBOX board member, played a huge role in the success of this project. Having ordered and organized all the book orders for the school, she said, “As the books rolled into the Eagle Lake library, I couldn’t help but think of the educators and students who would be empowered and inspired by the words and illustrations of so many Indigenous authors and artists. What a privilege to be one of the ‘helping hands’ bringing this project to life.”

Since the install, Principal Kivell shares, “our older students were thrilled to have new books to read, and the collections have them totally engaged.”

At SchoolBOX, we are driven by the mission to make education possible for all, by supporting First Nations youth and children in their educational journeys. Margie Graff believes this passionately, and reflecting on the project she shares, “Being a part of the Migisi Sahgaigan School Library installation has been such a joy. Working with the book requests from staff and the identified areas of need, we were able to provide much needed Indigenous texts and educational resources. Now students will have books that reflect themselves, their community, their language and their dreams.”

Our current project is at the Harvey Redsky Memorial School!

SchoolBOX and Harvey Redsky Memorial School are working together to create a library collection filled with Indigenous content and local Indigenous art that will support the efforts of language revitalization for the students by securing Ojibway language resources. The goal of this project is to help address the gaps in First Nations education and support every child’s right to education! 

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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.