On Sept. 26, Lakes Literacy installed a special StoryWalk featuring Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell at the LDSS walking track in recognition of truth and reconciliation week. With the support of Lakes Literacy’s board of directors, this book was selected for its gentle, yet somber telling of a young Indigenous girl’s final days in her home community before she traveled to residential school. It was our hope that this StoryWalk would have provided community members of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to reflect on truth and reconciliation throughout the week of Sept. 30 – National Day of Truth & Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day.
Unfortunately, only a few hours after being installed, the StoryWalk was vandalized and significantly damaged. We arrived to discover nearly all the signs removed from the field and laying on the ground. Several wooden posts had been snapped or split, signboards ripped in half and a page was missing. This vandalism would have occurred during daylight hours. The StoryWalk needed to be removed from the track due to the damage.
This is unfortunately not the first time we have encountered vandalism to our StoryWalks. We do hope that through growing awareness of the problem and the help of our community, we might be able to prevent it from happening again.
StoryWalks are fun, family friendly activities that build literacy skills and encourage a love of reading. Since the launch of the program in 2020, we have received very positive feedback from our community, and we know that it has contributed to an improved quality of life for many. It has encouraged families and individuals to get outside and enjoy our beautiful outdoor spaces, and to have fun, laugh and read together. We have had story installations in many different community locations, including LDSS track, Spirit Square, Kinette Park, the Community Garden, the Link Food Bank Garden, and Kager Lake Trail.
What can you do to help? Keep your eyes and ears open in community spaces where StoryWalks are installed. If you witness any individual or group causing damage to a StoryWalk, if it is safe for you to do so, contact the Burns Lake RCMP at 250-692-7171.
As an organization, we will likely need to respond by adapting the way we do StoryWalks in the future, to ensure that there is more supervision of community spaces while they are installed. We would appreciate any feedback or suggestions from the community in this regard: please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Ellie Jones, literacy outreach coordinator