Increasing numbers of refugee claimants are arriving in Toronto and facing longer and longer wait times for refugee hearings. Children and families require services and programs during this transitional time. Inspired by IBBY’s Children in Crisis programs around the world, Steven Meagher from Christie Refugee Centre and Jen McIntyre from Romero House approached IBBY Canada to create a similar program for children living in shelters.
In May 2018, IBBY Canada launched the Readers and Refugees pilot program, connecting volunteer readers with young refugee claimants living in shelters in Toronto. For the five-week pilot program, IBBY Canada volunteers read with children once a week at Christie Street Refugee Welcome Centre in Toronto.
Based on the success of phase one of the pilot program, IBBY Canada is looking forward to expanding its scope.
In order to highlight picture books by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors and illustrators, IBBY Canada has put together a list of 100 recommended Indigenous picture books.
The project committee was co-chaired by IBBY president Mary Beth Leatherdale, and author and educator Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis (Nipissing First Nation). The collection will be shared with IBBY sections internationally. The Selection Committee consisted of Allison Taylor-McBryde, Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia and a children’s librarian at North Vancouver District Public Library; Patricia Knockwood (Fort Folly First Nation), Indigenous Services Librarian for New Brunswick and member of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Indigenous Matters Committee; and Joanne Schwartz, award-winning author and children’s librarian with the Toronto Public Library.
Inaugurated in 2013 and established in honour of illustrator Joanne Fitzgerald, IBBY Canada administers this award to provide up-and-coming published illustrators the opportunity to participate in a unique residency hosted by a public library. It is funded by Joanne Fitzgerald’s family. The illustrator takes part in a month-long residency in October of every year, providing workshops and programs at a participating public library. The residency alternates between the Toronto Public Library and another library system outside of Ontario. The illustrator receives $4000 plus $300 for art supplies.
The Frances E. Russell Grant was established in memory of a long-time supporter of IBBY Canada. The $1,000 grant is intended “to initiate and encourage research in young people’s literature in all its forms” and is given in support of research for a publishable work (a book or a paper) on Canadian children’s literature.
Read more about the Russell Grant here.
The goal of the IBBY Fund for Children in Crisis is to provide support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disaster. The two main activities that are supported by the Fund are the therapeutic use of books and storytelling in the form of bibliotherapy, and the creation or replacement of collections of selected books that are appropriate to the situation.
IBBY Canada received funding from the Children in Crisis program for its initiative of giving the award-winning, wordless book Sidewalk Flowers to every Syrian refugee family arriving in Canada.
Read more about the Children in Crisis program here.