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Symcor & Innovations for Learning Release Indigenous E-Storybook Series

Press Release

TORONTO, ON (February 17, 2022) – Symcor, a leading Canadian organization that enables secure data exchanges, and Innovations for Learning Canada (IFL), a registered charity focused on improving early literacy for at-risk students, have partnered to launch the first in a new series of children’s e-books designed to support Indigenous language revitalization and advance Indigenous priorities, perspectives, and world views.

Partnering with Indigenous communities, the children’s e-books are written and illustrated by Indigenous artists and incorporate words and phrases in the first languages of the communities, along with storylines that celebrate the communities’ values and culture. To bring this storybook to life, audio clips of elders and knowledge keepers pronouncing key words in Anishinaabemowin are embedded within the e-book.

IFL is a non-profit organization focused on increasing reading abilities among at-risk primary grade students and improving literacy outcomes in under-resourced schools. Every year, 100,000 children in Canada complete Grade 3 without the ability to read proficiently, making them 4X less likely to graduate from high school. By the time they reach the age of 12, there is a five-year gap in the reading levels of these students and others in their grade.

“Guided by our North Star, ‘Connecting for Common Good’, Symcor is proud to partner with Innovations for Learning. We are committed to help close the early-grade literacy gap in high-need communities across the country,” says Ana Brtan, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Symcor. “Never has this been more important than in 2022, when we see the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has led to significant disruption in education and schooling.”

The first in the series of e-books sponsored by Symcor, Ice Fishing with Nimkii, is available on IFL’s online literacy platform, TutorMate. The series can be accessed by Early Learning Interventionists during their 1:1 tutoring sessions with students (classroom and remote), and also through virtual tutoring with corporate volunteers from Symcor and other organizations.

The stories are available for independent practice in the classroom at dedicated reading stations, and at home where families and students can access a library of stories and word games through the TutorMate smartphone app. Starting in 2023, students and families around the world will be able to access the e-book as part of a global story library available online at no cost.

Ice Fishing with Nimkii showcases Wiikwemkoong Board of Education land-based Learning Coach Nimkii Lavell, who teaches children traditional Anishinaabek outdoor activities ranging from maple syrup production to canoe building. Ice Fishing with Nimkii was inspired by a gillnetting excursion that Jacob Pitawanakwat, IFL’s Program Manager and Early Literacy Interventionist at Wiikwemkoong Junior School, attended with Nimkii and local students. Jacob’s original photographs of the trip were used as references for the book’s illustrations.

“As I showed the early sketches to teachers and students, the first thing they did was burst out laughing because the illustrations are the spitting image of Nimkii, who everyone knows and loves. Now these students get to see something they’ve experienced first-hand, captured in storybook form at school, and they really treasure that,” says Jacob.

Upcoming stories sponsored by Symcor will explore additional themes identified by Indigenous communities and incorporate different local languages and dialects, supporting language revitalization efforts and providing students with storybooks that reflect their culture and community.

“Symcor has been with us in Canada since Day 1. Its employees have been tremendously effective ambassadors of our program, inspiring other corporations to join our effort. Symcor’s sponsorship has enabled crucial 1:1 literacy support for hundreds of high-need children as we’ve expanded our programming over the last three years. We are delighted to have Symcor as the first organization to sponsor IFL’s original storybook series and to pioneer this unique partnership model,” says Fabrice Grover, Executive Director, Innovations for Learning Canada.

Three other storybooks in the series sponsored by Symcor are slated to be released this school year, with the next one coming out in the spring.

About Symcor:

Symcor enables secure data exchanges and supporting business processes to help clients succeed in an evolving digital world. Trusted by Canada’s largest institutions for over 25 years to support their digital transformations, Symcor aligns industry participants to solve common challenges in the most effective and efficient way. For more information, visit www.symcor.ca.

About Innovations for Learning:

Innovations for Learning (IFL) is a global non-profit that has been developing, testing, and implementing innovative programs to advance early literacy and reading enjoyment for over 25 years. A Canadian registered charity, IFL Canada collaborates with under-resourced and remote communities and uses IFL’s proprietary online platform, TutorMate, to provide crucial 1:1 daily instruction on phonics foundations from trained paraprofessionals (“high dosage tutoring”) and weekly 1:1 reading tutoring from virtual volunteers. In the first program of its kind in Canada, IFL matches struggling early readers with volunteers like Symcor’s business professionals who use the TutorMate platform to read together virtually. For more information, visit tutormate.ca

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