Calgary

13-year-old collects 3,000 books to donate to Indigenous summer literacy camp

A 13-year-old student's generous donation means his neighbours on Tsuut'ina First Nation will get to turn the pages of thousands of books this summer.

Grade 8 student Christian Waldron hopes to eventually collect 25,000 books

Christian Waldron, 13, organized a book drive for students that attend the Tsuut'ina Summer Literacy Camp. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

A 13-year-old student's generous donation means his neighbours on Tsuut'ina First Nation will get to dive into thousands of summer reads.

Christian Waldron, a Grade 8 student at Webber Academy, organized a book drive with his fellow students. 

"We collected 3,000 books over a two-month period. And after I found out that we collected that many books, I felt really proud of myself," Waldron said.

The books were collected through Reading Nation — a non-profit Waldron set up with the help of his parents — and will go to students at the Tsuut'ina Summer Literacy Camp.

Naomi Eagletail volunteers with Tsuut'ina Summer Literacy Camp. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

"I'm just astonished, really. I'm grateful, for me being under 30, to watch someone younger than me just accomplish so much for First Nations students," said Naomi Eagletail, a volunteer at the summer camp. "It's crazy amazing."

The literacy camp is a two-week program for Tsuut'ina students aged five to 12. Frontier College, a national literacy organization, offers the program and it's funded by Alberta Education. 

Waldron is a volunteer at the camp, but wanted to step up his contribution this year. 

"I just like that he's taken the initiative to help other people. There's so many other things he could be doing over the summer and I'm just proud that this is one of the things he's decided is important to him," said Waldron's mom, Sara. 

While 3,000 books might seem like a lot, it's just the start for Waldron.

"My family and I think that if we get more families to donate we can get around 25,000 books … and those books will be given to other camps like this," he said. 

They hope to collect enough books to be distributed to 13 other Indigenous summer literacy camps across the province.

With files from Anis Heydari