North Delta Rotarians help build library for First Nations community

North Delta Rotarians help build library for First Nations community

NORTH DELTA — Nine members of the North Delta Rotary Club helped set up a library in a remote First Nations community on Vancouver Island this past September.

The Ditidaht Library, which opened on Sept. 15, was completed after nine months of collecting books and work by an architect and professional engineer.

The community of Dididaht, located on Nitinaht Lake on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is only accessible via a 50km logging road, or by boat. The area’s sawmill burned down 10 years ago and has faced economic issues ever since.

Local kindergarten teacher, Eva Clarke, took the initiative to improve her students’ literacy and asked the rotary, through the Lieutenant Governer’s Write to Read program, to sponsor a new library for the community.

“A lot these projects that we’re doing [are] overseas,” said Sean Hogan, one of the nine North Delta Rotarians who helped with the library.

“I’ve been to Kenya myself on literacy projects where we build libraries and put in computer apps and things like that, we’re doing lots of these things overseas but we haven’t been doing them here… we hadn’t been aware of the need with these very remote First Nations communities.”

Taking on the B.C.-based project, the Rotarians collected over 4,000 books to stock the library and implemented a library computer system with barcodes and scanners.

“It’s a great project and it’s a wonderful way to help people in our local community to get basic skills and to get them out of poverty,” Hogan said.

About 350 members from the community are benefiting from the library, according to Hogan. A Port Alberni-based youth group also raised more money to equip the building with six more computers, and the local band converted another room into a youth recreation area.

“I really want to give thanks to the community of Ditidaht because without them being so supportive and enthusiastic about this project, it never would have taken off,” Hogan said. “It’s not really a question of us helping out a First Nations community. It’s really a partnership where they had a need.”

The Rotarians hope to continue their work to help with literacy camps in the community in the future, as well as start on other similar projects in B.C.