Aboriginal language students, who often have a difficult time speaking in their native languages, can now use their school libraries to pay for a copy of the books they’ve borrowed.
The move was announced Tuesday as students across the country are trying to avoid missing out on school books and learning what they need to succeed.
“If I need a textbook or a textbook for a course or I need to look up a word in a dictionary, I’ll go to my library and borrow it,” said Marlene Deane, a Grade 11 English student at the University of Alberta.
“So if I have a book and it’s missing, I can just go into my library, I don’t have to go into the classroom.”
Students at the Université de Sherbrooke have also been able to use their libraries to get books and other resources to help them learn the language.
Deane said the move is important because some Aboriginal languages, like English, are taught as an “intermediate” level and students can sometimes struggle learning it.
“I don’t think people really understand that they’re learning an intermediate level language, so that’s really important to us because we know that learning that level of language is going to be a lifelong process for us,” she said.
Deanes said she would love to see a similar program in other First Nations communities.
“We’ve had some good conversations about it, and I think that the whole conversation really needs to be driven by the students, because there’s a lot of students who really are struggling and we really need to support them,” she added.
The library card holders are required to have a card that shows they are a Canadian resident.
They can also be issued a library card with a specific language or a specific school and a certain number of days per year.
The library cards are valid for three years, and are charged at the point of purchase, with a minimum $2 fee for a new one.
Deans school also offers free bilingual learning sessions for students who don’t speak English, French, Spanish or another language.
Students can also sign up for a free program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to learn their own Aboriginal languages.
Students who want to sign up can find more information at the library’s website.
The program also includes the option of having a library cards used for school and personal use.
“It’s kind of like a gateway to learning a language that you wouldn’t otherwise learn,” Deane said.