There’s a shelf on our family bookcase reserved for East Coast authors. (Yes, I organize by theme, and ‘local interest’ takes centre stage.) I was pleasantly surprised when I took inventory of the New Brunswick titles, spurred by this week’s launch of a New Brunswick Literature Curriculum in English (NBLCE) from St. Thomas University.
The curriculum, intended for high school and university audiences but accessible online, was in response to something Professor Tony Tremblay noticed in his classes. He says nearly all his first-year students were at a loss when asked to identify three important New Brunswick authors. Tremblay realized it was from lack of exposure, not lack of interest. So he pulled together some folks to try to help teachers offer more New Brunswick-based literature in their classrooms and I, for one, couldn’t be more pleased.
Granted, we only have one child in the school system so far, and it’s going to be several years before she’s ready for this curriculum. But this gives me a place to start building my knowledge of my adopted home, as well as hope that my children will grow up with a deeper understanding about the province in which they were born.
Regular readers of this column know how important I believe it is to have pride in the place in which you live. A strong connection to community is one of the best ways we can set our children up for success, whether that be here at home or wherever they decide to live.
While the New Brunswick Literature Curriculum isn’t (yet!) geared toward elementary and middle school students, it fits perfectly with the government’s 10-year education plan. The first priority listed in that document is to establish a culture of belonging. As I wrote in one of my first She Said columns “In geographic areas with depleted economies [like New Brunswick] … one of the strongest indicators for revitalization and success is pride of place. Having a fiercely loyal connection to a community is what drives people to stay, to create opportunities, to become entrepreneurs, and to affect real change.”
The NBLCE is established on this same principle. From its website: “A confident and productive population is aware of its histories. A healthy and happy citizenry takes pride in its heritage. New Brunswick literature shows us where we’ve come from, who we are, and how we are likely to meet the future.”
Expanding the NBLCE to include middle and elementary school options is a logical, and I hope planned, next step. Without even leaving the Southeastern part of the province, we have fantastic local children’s authors. There’s much to be learned about ourselves and our place in Diane Carmel Leger’s Piau’s Potato Present, Jennifer McGrath’s Gadzooks the Christmas Goose, and Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart! by Odette Barr, Colleen Landry, and Beth Weatherbee.
I encourage you to take a look around your home. Is it time to add another New Brunswick title to the book shelf? It’s not just books that can help us form a stronger sense of identity, though. Pick up some local magazines like agelessNB, The Fiddlehead, or The Maritime Edit. Play some David Myles, Matt Andersen, or Roch Voisine. Buy a Matt LeBlanc or Jared Betts piece for your wall, an Alex Colville or Thaddeus Holownia print. Then tell everyone who comes to your home that these are New Brunswick artists and authors and entrepreneurs. Find the New Brunswick creators who resonate with you, and share their works with everyone. Confident, creative communities engage those who already live here and those who might be convinced to call it home.