Northerners expanding definition of literacy

Northern educators, elders and literacy advocates are expanding the definition of literacy to include skills such as sewing and hunting.

Literacy councils include sewing, cooking, map-reading and hunting skills in definition

Northern educators, elders and literacy experts are grappling with the concept of Northern literacy at a conference in Yellowknife this week.

Representatives from the NWT Literacy Council, Ilitaqsiniq - Nunavut Literacy Council and the Yukon Literacy Coalition are hosting the pan-northern gathering on policy and practices.

Adriana Kusugak, with the Nunavut Literacy Council, said that in Rankin Inlet, the council identified sewing as a northern literacy skill. The course saw 15 women spend four months learning to sew — Kusugak said they left the course with more than just a tangible skill.

"There was a lot of confidence building," said Kusugak.

"The women started to feel proud of themselves and achieved goals that they had set out for themselves. The newfound confidence that they had from the program allowed them to take a step into the workforce or higher education or more demanding challenges."

Other skills identified by the conference as 'literacy' include hunting, map reading and cooking.

The literacy conference wraps up Thursday.