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Giving Voice: Literacy News Summer 2023

In this edition of your literacy news:

Did You Know?

June 21 is National Indigenous Day. On this day we recognize and celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. The month of June is also National Indigenous History Month.

The banner at the top of this newsletter was created by the Canadian government to celebrate National Indigenous Month.

“An eagle represents First Nations, a narwhal represents Inuit, and a violin to represent Métis. These illustrations are placed around the sun and surrounded by multicoloured smoke that represents Indigenous traditions, spirituality, inclusion, and diversity.” Read more

Summer Reading: Michelle Good

Michelle Good’s latest book, Truth Telling: Seven Conversations about Indigenous Life in Canada, is a series of essays “exploring the historical and contemporary Indigenous experience in Canada.”

At our Under the Cover webinar in April, Michelle told us the book was partly written in response to questions about her first book, Five Little Indians.

During the webinar, Michelle recommended several books (fiction and non-fiction) from Indigenous authors. You can find the list on our blog.

Reading is a window on the world. You can go anywhere. You can experience anything. You can see all types of things that you would never have the opportunity to see and experience in your actual life. Reading gives you that. It is like a passport with an unlimited travel budget.

Michelle Good, Literacy Unlimited Under the Cover webinar, 2023

Your Impact

Literacy Unlimited distributed 200+ books at a local elementary school

Literacy Unlimited recently hosted a family literacy evening at a local elementary school and distributed over 200 brand-new age-appropriate books. 

Several staff and volunteers participated in the event, and the turnout was fantastic! We spoke with the parents, invited them to visit our family activity site, and offered the kids books. The children had such incredible looks on their faces, as did the parents when they found out the books were free!

Each book had a QR code with a sticker that goes to the family literacy resource site we developed. We also set up tables with a computer showing the resource site to share with the parents and show them how to navigate it. The reception was warm, and the moods were good!

The event fulfilled our goals above and beyond, especially since we connected with parents. Another benefit was to connect with some of the educators, who are now informed of our services and were interested in possibly making a few referrals. Several teachers talked about the difficult circumstances that some of their families face.

We want to thank the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) and Maple Grove Elementary for the opportunity to host this event. “It was an amazing, collaborative pilot project,” declared Suzanne Simatos, part of the Student Services Department at LBPSB.

Getting the family involved in their children’s education significantly impacts how well they do in school and beyond. Literacy starts early!

Literacy Unlimited Wins Accolades

Lucy Baum from Literacy Unlimited receives the West Island Chamber of Commerce Accolades award from Marina Tcheuleu Kameni of CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île for the Community Service Category

The West Island of Montreal Chamber of Commerce’s 36th annual Accolades competition recognizes excellence in businesses and organizations in the West Island. The Accolades competition has become the symbol of quality and excellence in the business community. Literacy Unlimited won the award for the community service category. Pictured here is Lucy Baum, Executive Director of Literacy Unlimited and Najia Hachimi-Idrissi, from CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île, who gave out the award for the category.

Thank you to our dedicated volunteers, staff, and sponsors for all they do. And our biggest thanks goes to our learners who are taking control of their literacy and changing their lives.

Write-On: Literacy Unlimited’s Learner Publication

Every year, Literacy Unlimited produces an in-house learner publication: Write-On. We invite all our learners to submit an article.

Write On is a great way to encourage our learners to write something about themselves and share it with others in a safe environment. This year’s theme was “You Matter”. Here are two articles written by our learners from this year’s Write-On!

“Everyone Matters” by a 2023 Literacy Unlimited learner

This topic for Write-On is a tough one to write because everyone matters. A lot of people in my life help in some way. My family, Literacy Unlimited, friends, neighbours, coworkers, and people I meet are all important to me.  

My family is just amazing. They help in any way they can to support me. My work schedule doesn’t allow me to be around as much as I would like, but I know I matter to them.  

Literacy Unlimited has helped me so much, pairing me with a tutor which has led to many accomplishments and successes in my life. This has put me in a position to give back and I matter to people at Literacy Unlimited. I help in any way I can, such as volunteering at fundraising, speaking at tutor training, writing for Literacy Unlimited publications, giving interviews, and putting the word out there to those who could benefit from the program.  

I could go on forever on this topic. It’s hard to choose who matters because everyone plays a part.

“I Matter” by a 2023 Literacy Unlimited learner

I matter to my family. I take care of my children. I cook every day. I go to work and make money.

Sometimes I help my brother. When they had Covid, I brought them food and medicine.

I matter at work. I am a good worker. My boss appreciates me. I matter to my neighbour. I visit her and we have good talks.

Learning matters. My eyes were closed. Now my eyes are opened with education.

Literacy Unlimited Learner Success Story

We know we have succeeded in our mission when one of our learners is ready to go it alone.

Two years ago, Suzy called Literacy Unlimited and asked if we could help. She was enrolled in a Medical Administrators vocational course at an Adult Education Centre in the hope of finding work at the end of the course. She was worried that her literacy skills were not good enough to achieve her goal. Literacy Unlimited matched her with a volunteer tutor. They met online for 2 hours each week through the pandemic. Each session was customed to Suzy’s needs.  

At the end of two years, here’s what Suzy had to say about her experience with Literacy Unlimited:

“My tutor was perfect. She took time to see what my level was and to really find ways to help me in the areas I needed. I am so grateful for the help I have had from this organization. My grammar, reading fluency and comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and conversation skills have all improved. I have so much more confidence in my skills and I have reached my goal. It feels great.” 

Suzy, a Literacy Unlimited alumnae learner

Suzy successfully completed her Health Administrator courses at Adult Ed. She recently completed her stage (internship) in a clinic and is now in full-time employment.

Faces of Literacy Unlimited

Mary Ann Mete, Volunteer

All the faces at Literacy Unlimited are important. One particular is Mary Ann Mete – she is the President of Literacy Unlimited’s Board of Directors.

She started with Literacy Unlimited as a tutor. The 2 hours a week she spent with her learner were the best 2 hours of her week!

Education has always played an important part in Mary Ann’s life. She comes from a reading family – love that! Her family used to spend time reading every night. What a precious legacy a family can have!

“Literacy makes such a difference to your life.”

Thank you, Mary Ann for being an important face at Literacy Unlimited! 

You Helped Raise $13,456 to Solve Literacy

Our Annual Donor Appeal Campaign was successful due to the generous donations we received from many of our supporters and with Air Canada matching those donations, we were able to raise a grand total of $13,456.00. Read more/ en français.

Under the Cover Fundraiser

Our latest Under The Cover fundraiser on April 13, 2023 featured Michelle Good, the award-winning author of Five Little Indians, who was interviewed on Zoom by Kristy Snell of CBC. Michelle is a Cree writer and member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

Michelle explained her writing process and how she interwove the many challenges that faced students once they were released from the residential school system. The discussion was insightful and engaging and Michelle was open and honest.

Her next book, Truth Telling: Seven Conversations about Indigenous Life in Canada, was just released on May 30th.

We have already started the planning for the 2024 Under the Cover fundraiser. We will continue with our popular online event, as well as adding a local in-person event. Sign up on the link at the bottom of this page to be added to the distribution list.

Improving Literacy in the West Island Community

This year we were able to resume community programs in person and continue developing programs with partner organizations. We offered programs in the local adult education centres, established three Community Reads! mini-libraries, offered local workshops, and started our family literacy initiatives.

Read more.

Keeping Active: The Unlimited Seniors Club

Our Unlimited Seniors Club was a roaring success! The Unlimited Seniors Club is a positive place for seniors who want to boost their quality of life and is open to all seniors, no matter what their literacy level. We offered workshops with local community organizations and in-house. The club will be back again in the Fall with more workshops, but to read a review of what we offered these last few months, click here.

Tutoring Tip of the Month

Literacy is a skill that needs to be used to keep it strong. Summer learning loss describes the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer vacation. Applicable to kids and adults, the best way to make sure you keep your skills active is to use them. Make time for learning – just put aside time each day to read. It doesn’t have to be long, but it is important to do it regularly. (And it doesn’t have to be fiction; a cookbook or travel guide still counts as reading.)

Where to Find Literacy Unlimited in the Summer

Activities and Events for National Indigenous Month – June

If you are interested in activities and events specifically for National Indigenous Month, please visit the Facebook listing for Montreal Indigenous Community Network.

The West Island Blues Festival – July 8

The West Island Blues Festival is a community-minded venture with the expressed objectives of aiding non-profit organizations and promoting Blues in the West Island. Literacy Unlimited is one of the beneficiaries of the event and we will be there at our booth, helping out the organizers and dancing the night away! Read more.

West Island Mission Backpack Project – August

This is a private event for families that use food banks in the West Island. Organized by the West Island Mission, families can choose new backpacks, school supplies, and books to start the new school! We are providing 661 books and the kids will choose which book they want to read.

Literacy Unlimited Closed for the Summer

Reopening Tuesday, September 5

We will be checking email, telephone messages, and picking up our mail, but we are in summertime and catching up on our reading, so may not respond as quickly as we do when working. If your message is urgent, please email

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