Literacy learning goes online

The Saskatchewan Literacy Network is celebrating Raise-a-Reader Day by embracing digital literacy. Today, the SLN is releasing the photo series Living What We Learn on its newly redesigned website. The photo series will also be shared on Facebook and Twitter to encourage the public to consider different forms of learning for families.

The Living What We Learn photo series reflects the donated time of a dozen local businesses dedicated to promoting family literacy. Three photos showcase forms of families learning together: Through an e-book and website, a graphic novel and a children’s book. The photo series will be shared online with the intention of sparking awareness of an emerging form of literacy – digital literacy.

“As our society moves toward using computers and digital technology in daily life, it is important for families to learn to use technology together. Just as books can be used for parents and children to interact and learn together, a computer game, a website, social media or an e-book can have similar applications,” Lisa Erickson of the SLN said.

Wapos Bay, the Gemini Award-winning children’s show, was the focus of one of the photos. Its website,, has interactive games and e-books that encourage families to learn together. Naidu Photography‘s photo of Bobby Henry from the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Literacy Network depicts the way we can interact with e-books – just like a regular children’s book, we can fall into the story in our imaginations. Henry is wearing clothing donated by Mint Fashion Co, another supporter of literacy.

More traditional forms of literacy are depicted in the picture of Jennilee Cardinal-Schultz of Chop Chop Hair Salon. The photographer, Vanessa Neufeld, captured an imaginary scene inspired by a children’s book: The mother and daughter are living what they are learning from the story. The beautiful image is enhanced by a puppet dragon contributed by Wide Open Theatre and dresses designed by Chelsey Gruza.

The third photo depicts a less-recognized medium for reading – the power of the graphic novel. Kevin Greggain captured local producer Katrina German reading a graphic novel within a comic book setting.

All pictures are shared on the SLN’s website ( and its Facebook page. People are encouraged to share the pictures on Twitter and Facebook to show their support for literacy and Raise-a-Reader.


Just as technology has changed the face of communicating, it is also changing the way people learn and practise their literacy skills.

Today volunteers, literacy organizations, local businesses and the general public are encouraged to answer the question: “How do you raise a reader?” Through Twitter, the addition of the hashtag #RAR to the end of a tweet will start a conversation about literacy that will span across Canada.

“Twitter is a new way to share ideas and we want to share the Raise-a-Reader campaign with as many people as possible,” Erickson said.

Saskatoon Twitterer @katrinavision notes that “if every person adds the hashtag #RAR to their tweet, we should be able to get a very cool list of the ways that Canadians are interacting and learning with their kids.”

Leaders in social media, such as Darren Sproat (@ DarrenSproat) of Regina, who manages 40,000-plus Twitter followers and the popular blog Then Life Happens (http: //www.then, will be tweeting and blogging along with @katrinavision and several hundreds of volunteers across Canada.

Providing newspapers for a donation has long been the pillar of the Raise-a-Reader campaign. The 2011 social media Twitter campaign for Literacy will augment this time-honoured practice by offering volunteers and those interested in supporting literacy one more way to become involved. The social media campaign will promote online donations by sending Twitter followers to the main donation site at


This special-edition of The StarPhoenix helps raise donations to Raise-a-Reader.

Raise-a-Reader raises money for northern Saskatchewan literacy and education organizations to help children get a good start in reading

Twenty-seven newspapers across Canada participate in Raise-a-Reader, raising $17 million for literacy programs since its launch in 2002.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

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So, I’m Trevor, the Story Editor of Wapos Bay. Right now it’s cold and we’re locked in our production schedule of the Wapos Bay Movie. Wapos Bay is a real village. Not real in terms of being able to book a vacation to or drive past but it’s real in the sense I love everyone who lives there. When Devon gets the boys in trouble, or Jacob tries something new, or when Horatio decides to dance, I know these people are real because many of their experiences are real. Some of my favourite moments in Wapos are when I  give a story to Wapos from my life.

When I wrote ‘Hardest Lesson‘, an episode that reveals T-Bear’s mother’s death, it was a reflection of my own childhood. You see my father passed away when I was seven. Soon after my family moved to a new city and I had to restart in a new elementary school. I was doing alright up until father’s day. We had to do an art project. It was a a paper shirt with several multicoloured paper ties. Each one of the ties was a coupon for your father. The teacher had no idea of my recent history and when I refused to do it the teacher thought I was the new kid being willful. I could feel my face reddening and eyes welling up. I didn’t want to tell everyone but my secret spilled out of me and down my cheeks and shamed my teacher.

That moment was the springboard for ‘The Hardest Lesson’. Instead of Father’s day it was Mother’s day. Instead of shirts with ties, it was flowers and petals. T-Bear held it together better than I did. His armour was a bit stronger than mine, but that moment, the snapshot helped make a great episode that people could relate to. It won a Gemini for writing, nominated for  direction and music. Won the kid’s jury at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (second place for Adult jury), Best animation at the American Indian Film Festival.

It’s experiences that inform stories. If you look at any of the stories I work on there’s always one beat or moment from my life as a spring board into Wapos Bay.

Dennis Jackson on his Canada AM gig

The idea of a national news program (Canada AM) covering a national native organization’s election (Assembly of Sovereign Indian Federations A.S.I.F.) struck me as funny and at the same time, why not? While the national news does cover the Assembly of First Nations (A.F.N.) election results, I thought it would be unique and some room for comedy if the news anchors were physically there at the elections themselves. In an early draft, they were written as reporter #1 and reporter #2. As a fan of the show, I rewrote the opening to have the Canada AM reporters, Beverly Thomson, Seamus O’Regan, Jeff Hutcheson and Marci Ien. We then contacted the producers of Canada AM, sent them a script and requested their participation in voicing their own characters for our animated children’s program. It was an incredible honor when they accepted and we recorded them at the CTV studios when we were in Toronto for the Gemini awards, which we also won for best writing!

Melanie and myself were star struck when we first met all four of them on November 2nd, 2010. We went through a quick table reading before the actual recording so that they can familiarize themselves with the dialogue and I can answer any questions they may have. We all had a lot of laughs during the recording as everyone was cracking jokes and laughing at the bloopers. During one of Jeff Hutcheson’s takes, I said, “That was good, we’ll just get another take for safety”, after which Jeff replied jokingly, “Oh okay, that must be director talk for, that sucked.” I couldn’t stop laughing. They were very professional and made our visit a lot of fun and humorous. We also received a tour of the CTV studios, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. We have recently animated some of their scenes and I can’t wait until the Canada AM crew can watch their animated performances!

Here are a few photos from that day…

Wapos Bay Series Now Playing in French on APTN

January 10, 2011 (Saskatoon, SK) – The four-time Gemini award winning Wapos Bay series will now reach French-speaking audiences across Canada on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

The French version of Wapos Bay is now showing on APTN on Mondays at 9:00am ET (HD), 10:00am ET (East), 4:30pm ET (East & HD), Tuesdays at 4:30pm MT (West) and Sundays at 9:00am ET (HD) and 10:00am ET (East). Highlights of the series include a guest visit from Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes) in “Self Improvement,” as well as film festival hits “Raiders of the Lost Art,” “Raven Power” and “The Hardest Lesson.”

Montreal-based DBCom Media versioned 13 of the 34 episodes with the financial support of the Canada Media Fund (formerly the Canadian Television Fund), National Film Board of Canada and APTN.

“We really fell in love with the show. Mainly for its wonderful characters, but also for the impressive craftmenship and the compelling, funny and intelligent stories. DBcom Media is happy and proud to have participated in presenting to the French speaking audience such a soulful and refreshing show.”

-  Dominique Lalonde, Directrice de production, DBCom.

Actors included great Quebec talents such as Guy Nadon (Mushom), Hugolin Chevrette (Devon), Élisabeth Chouvalidzé (Kokum Mary) and François-Nicolas Dolan (T-Bear), who also played Nemo in the French version of Finding Nemo.

View a clip and read about DBcom’s adaptation at:



Wapos Bay Receives Five Gemini Nominations

1 September 2010 – The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced that Wapos Bay, the stop motion animated children’s series broadcast on APTN and SCN, has received five Gemini Award nominations. The 25th Annual Gemini Awards ceremony will be held in Toronto November 2nd and 3rd, 2010.

Wapos Bay is among five productions nominated for Best Animated Program or Series. DerRic Starlight, the voice behind the character of Devon, received a nomination for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series. Trevor Cameron earned two nominations; one for Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series, and one for Best Writing in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series, both for the episode, The Hardest Lesson. Ross Nykiforuk joins the list of nominees for Best Original Music Score for an Animated Program or Series (The Hardest Lesson).

The announcement comes on the eve of the broadcast premiere of Season 5 on APTN, the September launch of the digital media properties, and pre-production for the Wapos Bay Movie commencing in October.

Producer/ writer/ director Melanie Jackson comments: “Working on Wapos Bay has been a wondrous experience. The cast and crew have had such faith in the production since we began, that we’ve built a family. I’m very honored and ecstatic with this years nominations and I know with unwavering confidence they are well earned. I offer my congratulations and appreciation to the nominees, cast and crew of Wapos Bay for their hard work and undying enthusiasm for the little show that could!”

Wapos Bay season five premieres Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) with special guest star David Suzuki (The Nature of Things). Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN) broadcasts seasons three and four. Wapos Bay Productions is currently in pre-production for the Movie of the Week.