Supporting communities where we operate
Forevermark, as part of the De Beers Group, believes literacy and education empower people to shape their own future. Individual growth stimulates community development and economic success.
Founded in 2003, the De Beers Books in Homes programme focuses on local indigenous communities, most of which do not have access to a community bookstore. Dubbed the Flying Book Store because most of the communities are only accessible by air, the programme provides new books to children free of charge to overcome any distance or economic barriers students may face. Since its launch, the De Beers Group has distributed more than 50,000 books to Northwest Territories (NWT) students. The 2018 programme was bigger than ever with 6,900 books delivered to 1,800 students in nine NWT communities.
“This programme is an investment in the future of the communities where we work,” explained Kelly Brenton, Superintendent of Indigenous Relations and Sustainability, who coordinated the NWT programme. “Literacy is critical to individual and community economic success, and by putting books into children’s hands and homes, we hope we’re helping establish a love of reading. It opens doors to training, education and employment opportunities.”
Communities visited this year in the NWT were: Wha Ti, Behchoko, Gameti, Wekweeti, Dettah, Ndilo, Lutsel K’e, Fort Resolution and Hay River. De Beers Group also launched a new reading initiative in partnership with the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation in Yellowknife, which provided 700 books in 2018 to be distributed to newborn babies at the hospital during the year.
In addition to hosting the Flying Book Store in each community, De Beers Books in Homes brought NWT Literacy Council workers to each school to hold activities designed to develop literacy skills.
Representatives from the Student Financial Assistance Programme of the Government of the Northwest Territories were also invited to attend and share information about financial support available to students considering post-secondary education.
“At each school youth took their time to carefully select the books that interested them,” said Kelly. "It wasn’t unusual to see students sitting in a corner or a classroom, engrossed in reading their new book within minutes of leaving the book fair.”
In addition to literacy outreach programmes to support the NWT, De Beers Group collected and distributed three truckloads – more than 13,000 kg – of donated items to Attawapiskat worth an estimated CAD 120,000. Items included hygiene and baby products, books and school supplies, household items, camping and sports equipment, musical instruments, crafts and art supplies, and handmade cards and letters. They were gathered by Anne and Mark Laalo of Ottawa, who operate as a non-profit called Annie & Company, to help the children, youth and families of Attawapiskat.