My Little Corner of Canada: Once upon a time

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

JOHN AMAGOALIK

Once upon a time…these are words that open up a whole world of far off places, adventures, and journeys of the mind. They introduce children to the magic kingdom of the imagination. They are written by an instrument that is mightier than the sword.

Having been surrounded by the written word most of my life, I cannot imagine what my world would be like if I could not read or write. What would it be like if I could not read my daily newspaper or write my weekly column? What would it be like if the words of Shakespeare were just unrecognizable symbols? What if I couldn’t read or understand the words in the Bible?

Literacy allows us to live fuller lives. It allows us to understand human history and to record the present for future generations. It connects the human mind to the richness of human experience.

Through the written word, I can begin to appreciate the daily lives of people in the four corners of the globe. I can read about the pains of hunger in Africa, the agony of war in Bosnia, and the desparate lives of Russians. I can read about the aspirations of children in Ireland, the hopes and fears of people in the Middle East, and the world view of Aborigines in Australia. I can explore the minds of poets and great leaders. I can learn about the lives of extraordinary people.

When a baby is born, it is born with the ability to learn any language. If an Inuk baby grows up surrounded by Chinese, that baby will know the Chinese language. If a Mexican baby grows up surrounded by Inuit, it will know the Inuktitut language. The human mind is capable of learning anything. Someone who does not learn to read or write is being denied one of the best rewards of human experience.

Peter Gzowski (Mr. Morningside) and Ernie Coombs (Mr. Dress-Up) know the importance of literacy. They know the power of the word. That’s why they were here in Iqaluit this past week.

Knowledge is power. And knowledge begins with the understanding of the written word.

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