n 1989, a group of northerners received funding from the federal government to organize a conference on literacy. The purpose of this conference was to gauge interest in starting a Literacy Coalition for the NWT. The group was motivated, in part, by the United Nation’s International Year of Literacy and by available funding from the federal government for literacy projects.
Over 100 people from all regions of the NWT attended the conference. By the end of the conference, an‘Interim Council’ wasformed to do the groundwork for holding a founding convention. The Interim Council developed by-laws and established balanced representation between all regions of the Northwest Territories.
A founding convention was held and delegates came from every community to meet in Yellowknife. The convention adopted the by-laws and elected the first officers of the NWT Literacy Council. Edna Elias was the first NWT Literacy Council president.
In the first year, volunteer board members ran the NWT Literacy Council. In 1991, a half-time Executive Director was hired. For the first few years, the Literacy Council focused on developing its mandate and developing a strong organization. The Board consciously chose to promote and support literacy in all official languages of the NWT and to support communities and community-based literacy initiatives. The organization actively raised the profile of literacy through the Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) golf tournament, Read for 15, NWT Literacy Week, the NWT Writing Contest and other promotional activities.
In 1994-95, the Literacy Council hired its first full-time Executive Director and hosted the “Literacy Matters” conference. This conference attracted literacy practitioners from every community in the NWT. The conference also provided the Literacy Council with a stronger mandate in program and practitioner support.
In 1996, the Literacy Council initiated the Family and Community Literacy Development project as a way of providing information, training and resources to people in communities interested in or working in literacy and adult basic education. The Council also increased its advocacy role and its outreach services to communities.
In 1999, with the creation of Nunavut, the NWT Literacy Council divided into two new councils. The Nunavut Literacy Council was founded in 1999.
In 2011, the board and staff chose to add ‘Ilitaqsiniq’ to our name. Our new name was inspired by the definition of literacy, ‘seeing and knowing what you see’ developed by a group Elders in Gjoa Haven.
‘History’ republished (with some changes) with permission from the NWT Literacy Council.