Author presentation-libraries render hope

The presentation made by author Deborah Ellis.

“Ladies, girls, boys, here today, in Canada, you are a generation where women have  guarenteed freedoms, opportunities and a power that mankind on earth has ever seen. (sic)…”

In every person lies a story to embrace. The down trodden children of the world find a voice for their many stories in a Deborah Ellis book.
What a refreshing presentation by Ms. Ellis! Death, aids, kidnapping, drug trade, sexism, human rights abuses…oh my more gloom and doom, BUT…

Educators, parents, and community leaders need to either face these hard realities or hide…as we in the west have plenty of blame to share, I choose the former option. Ask questions, read, Learn, and teach our children. Deborah Ellis not only described and assessed these social horrors through her books and storytelling but she emboldened us to stay vigilant and informed without scolding like so many well-intended agents do. She could discuss complexities of poverty and refugees in pain while INSTRUCTING us to remain hopeful. Our teens were enlightened with raw truth yet buoyant that they could make change one teen at a time. Like the Kielburger brothers, she penetrates through the teenager’s built-in “crap detectors” and their affluent comforts without preaching or laying guilt.  This is a talent and developed skill.

“Ladies, girls, boys, here today, in Canada, you are a generation where women have  guarenteed freedoms, opportunities and a power that mankind on earth has ever seen. (sic)…”

Ellis’s humble voice rings out in a theatre full of silent teens.   Ms. Ellis calls out to teens.  “Don’t accept the expression ‘you are the generation for a better world- me, you, all ages must take ownership of the plight we put children into.”(sic)

She scolds my  generation for their ‘coalition of the willing’ that accepts war and oppression as unavoidable.  She outlined the facts that today, 2011, 90% of war casualties are now innocent civilians- ‘collateral damage’  is an everyday reality for the people on the ground.  She described the laws and social contracts(including the enlightened men) developed that empower western women. She encouraged them as to the amazing potential and importance of applying their freedoms toward improving the world. Raising big questions but also emblazoning hope on our minds is the power of an author. Her descriptions of how books and a tiny library or classroom have transformed people and even entire villages reminds us all of the value of free public school, libraries and access to the power of reading. Deborah Ellis reminds us of why we advocate for school libraries. In fact, it reminds us why the Central Okanagan TeacherLibrarians Association works hard each year to bring powerful authors to Kelowna for Education Week. It is why they provide a free public forum. It is why 3000+ children participate for the week and not just one hour or even a day. Supporting reading and libraries is not just about the joys of literacy or a vague altruism. It is about the things that improve lives.
Deborah Ellis’s spoken words made a positive difference and her written words, through her 20+ books are impactful forever.  –Al SMith

Below is the text from a colleague sharing her perspective on the event.

Pat Kirkey(ret) COTLA Author Committee writes,

“… I didn’t think anything could top last night, but the KSS presentation this morning was amazing.

Perhaps it was the configuration of students:

There will be Ms. Lewis’s English 11 class and her class is reading Lord of the Flies and will be doing research on bullying.  There is one French Immersion class (SS 10) and some students from Ms. Irvine’s class who have just finished studying the “kite Runner”.  Ms. Kehler (sponsor of “Me to We”  will be bringing her English 10 class.  Ms. Culhan English 12 class will be attending.  Graeme Stacey will be bringing his Holocaust 12 students.

The atmosphere in the theatre was great – sound looked after by 2 female tech students, Al & Sharon did a great job of sprucing it up with flowers and plants, comfortable theatre seating and interested students.  Their questions were great and it was an inspiring morning.  Deborah was pleased to end her week with the older students who are ready to challenge the norm and work towards changing the future.

I has been an amazing week and Deborah asked me to pass on her appreciation and thanks to the committee, and teacher librarians as a group, for all the work that went into making it a memorable experience.  She now knows what Kenneth Oppel meant when he said you will enjoy your week – they will treat you like a celebrity and raise the bar for all future speaking engagements.

Deborah also assured me that we are going love (her words which she choses carefully) Eric Walters – he is a good guy and much more entertaining than I am! I assured her that entertainment is easy to find, thought provoking inspiration is a gift.

Well done!  Another author adventure under our belts.  Eric Walters in 2012 & then ???????

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing team.

Pat**

Congratulations to the entire COTLA Author Committee: Angie MacRitchie(Chair),Misty Smith(Pres.) Brenda Catheral, Al Smith, Dayna Hart, Sharon Bede, Pat Kirkey, Jim Gillett

**Pat Kirkey is a retired SD23 teacher and COTLA Executive member who volunteers as a convener for the annual Author Week.  She not only is involved from inception but spends each day as a one-on-one host. Driving the guest author to and fro venues during the week, Pat has both an intimate and broad view of the event and the impact on students.

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Filed under Education, Global Informed, KSS Student Body, Library Events, Photos

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