Literacy is a crucial life skill and an important step toward the Calgary Board of Education’s Mega End goal: “each student, in keeping with his or her individual abilities and gifts, will complete high school with a foundation of learning to function effectively in life, work and continued learning.”

The CBE’s Aboriginal Families Learning Together program works to build literacy skills and strengthens family ties with the combined support of Aboriginal families, Calgary school staff, and community volunteers. The Aboriginal parents and children involved in the program attend weekly sessions that consist of three parts: first, parents and children enjoy dinner and take some time for relationship building – something they may not ordinarily have a chance to do; second, after a short break, the parents and children are divided and taught separate lessons relevant to the evening’s topic; and finally, at the end of the night, parents and children are brought together again and given a chance to practice their new skills with each other.

The pilot program was run at Erin Woods Elementary School in 2007 and provided great success stories; one child, for example, was able to move from a specialized learning program into regular schooling. The grant provided by EducationMatters will fund the program’s expansion into the 2009/2010 school year.