Allison Bernard Memorial High School an Unama’ki TEC Students Celebrate Prominent Mi’kmaq Literacy Leader.

On June 1, Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni First Nation hosted the inaugural Rita Joe Memorial Literacy Day. The dedication ceremonies took place at 9 a.m. at the community’s high school.

The inaugural commemorative celebration honours Dr. Rita Joe for her contributions to Mi’kmaq literacy, and promotes literacy among Mi’kmaq students. The day long event included remarks from keynote speaker Ron Kaplan of Breton Books.

Students participated in workshops with authors Mike Isaac, Lesley Crewe, and Paul MacDougall; illustrators Terry MacDonald and Mary Rose Julian; actors and dramatists Todd Hiscock and Bruce Cathcart; and songwriters Alicia Penney and Shane O’Handley. The Stoney Bear Drummers provided entertainment for the event. Family members of Rita Joe were also in attendance.

Newell Johnson, Principal at Allison Bernard Memorial High School, shares that there was a great sense of enthusiasm, from both staff and students, in preparation for the event.

“The students explored their creative nature and used that to produce what they felt best portrayed Rita Joe’s legacy, whether it was writing poems, creating artwork and sculptures, or translating her poems into Mi’kmaq,” says Johnson. “This is something that we have long waited for, and to see that spark in our children is truly amazing and upli ...

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